WEST LIBERTY, Iowa–Throughout 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics to the communities they serve. In order to keep providing medical care to the West Liberty community during this time of need, the West Liberty Fire and Ambulance has added an additional EMT and an on call paramedic.
Since mid 2019, West Liberty Fire and Ambulance had three part time paramedics, EMS Coordinator and Administrator Sandy Heick, Materials and Information Manager Janelle Geiger, and Operations and Equipment Manager Bret Carlson. Together, they oversaw improvements to the department, such as purchasing new scoop stretchers and EMS bags, implementing updated protocols, and expanding their service hours to 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday. Volunteer firefighters from the community with EMT-B certification helped them round out their coverage and provide timely services, as ambulances from Muscatine, Iowa City, and other regional departments can take almost an hour to arrive in West Liberty.
As the pandemic saw more people needing emergency ambulance services and some volunteers unable to respond to those calls because of health concerns of their own, the department knew they needed to increase their staff. To that end, they have hired an additional EMT weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and an on call paramedic from 12 p.m. to 8:00 a.m.
With this increased staffing, West Liberty Fire and Ambulance can ensure that area residents can get a greater level of care more of the time, should they experience a medical emergency. “We feel that expanding our services is the right thing to do; its what our communities, families, and visitors deserve,” said Carlson.
The additional paramedic and EMT also relieves the strain on volunteer EMTs who already dedicate a lot of time and energy into keeping their communities safe. “We would not be able to provide any of the services we do without the amazing volunteers of our community members,” stressed Carlson. “They give countless hours to their community for things like training, calls, staff meetings, or just helping out with something that needs to be done at the station,” he elaborated, adding, “many have spent hundreds of hours getting their EMT-B certification–it is a lot to put on people who already have another full time job.”
As West Liberty Fire and Ambulance looks to the future, they hope to eventually add on call paramedic services for weekend nights as well. In all of their endeavors, they thank the City of West Liberty and members of the community for their support, as volunteer EMS services do not receive any state funding. “We are lucky here that our City Council and Trustees value EMS and their communities,” Carlson stated.