Winnebago County moves forward on decision if EMS is essential

(ABC 6 News) – Last year, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law a bill allowing counties to designate EMS as an essential service.

It is now up to counties across Iowa to determine if EMS is essential.

Winnebago County came together Wednesday night for a community discussion.

County leaders and citizens had differing opinions on how they can get more EMS workers into the field, some debating over staffing.

"Why aren’t we getting EMS people? Is it not a good benefits package? Is there not enough hours?" one community member said.

Although no big issues were solved Wednesday night, ideas were tossed around on how to get more workers into the service and how the county is going to fund with levy rates if EMS workers were to be considered essential.

Some possible solutions included increased funding to current EMS services and the effort to try and increase the amount of volunteer EMS workers.

"We’re talking about the what-ifs and there are no what-ifs to consider at this point. The resolution needs to pass," another community member said.

If the board of supervisors approves the resolution, it can be put on the general election ballot for Nov. 8, 2022.

"If the vote fails, it’s not an essential service," Terry Durby, Winnebago County Board Supervisor, said.

Despite differences in the room, the people there did have one thing in common. That was to move forward with a public hearing on April 26 to continue to discuss this.