WEMSA & ORH Listening Sessions

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of accompanying the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health (ORH) on a Rural EMS Listening Session tour across the North-woods. ORH provided a platform for rural EMS to describe their work and the condition in which they operate. These Listening Sessions were conducted with the hope that WI Legislators, municipal/county leaders, and state leadership will listen to their needs, struggles and ideas for solutions.

 

Multiple departments, Hospital personnel, a State Senator, a member of the WI Legislature, and local county board members were in attendance at these sessions. Along with Chief Dave Bloom, from the WI State Fire Chiefs Association (WSFCA), Ray Lemke from the Department of Health Services- EMS Section and myself representing WEMSA. Your WEMSA Board of Directors and Education Committee Chair Aimee Zeinert (Shawano EMS) was also in attendance.

 
We had the privilege to actively listen to the multiple challenges Rural EMS faces today. While these are not new challenges, I believe an open discussion is long overdue. While multiple topics were discussed a recurring theme developed including: 
 
  • Levy Limits
  • Access to Education
  • Recruitment and Retention 
  • Incentives
  • Culture Change
  • Community EMS and What it means for Rural WI
  • Internet and Cell Service 
  • Education to the Community about the vital role EMS has in their community
One of my biggest takeaways from these sessions is a quote from one of the attendees:
"The system was not designed to best serve our students, our community nor our volunteers. The current system cannot sustain".
It is my hope that with the platform ORH has provided with the continued support and attendance to these vital Listening Sessions that a cohesive message can be formulated and solutions can be developed for the betterment of Rural EMS. 
 
A huge THANK YOU to the whole ORH team, including; John Eich and Chali Pittman for hosting, producing and providing this vital platform to Rural EMS in Wisconsin.
 
Another ORH Listening Session is set for Wednesday, November 7th in Boscobel, WI from 6:30 pm- 8:30 pm at Gunderson-Boscobel Area Hospital. Please try to attend even if you are not in Grant County.  For more information please visit: http://worh.org/events/rural-ems-listening-sessions
 
I hope to see you all in attendance! If you cannot make the upcoming session and there are topics, suggestions, concerns or ideas for solutions that you have- please do not hesitate to email: [email protected]  or call our office 414-431-8193.
 
Amanda Bates, Conference & Education Director
Wisconsin EMS Association
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