The Forest City Emergency Medical Services unit will now be able to offer a tuition funding program for those wanting to enter the paramedic field. Dale Rayhons has approached both the City of Forest City and the Winnebago County Board of Supervisors in obtaining funding for tuition costs for prospective candidates who want to get certification at the collegiate level in paramedicine. The city approved a contribution to the paramedic unit on Monday according to Forest City Mayor Byron Ruiter.
The Winnebago County Board of Supervisors approved an additional $7,000 on Tuesday during their regular meeting at the courthouse. The funding did come with a stipulation. Because Forest City is partially in Hancock County, Forest City paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians are sent into Hancock County to respond to emergency calls from area manufacturing plants and businesses. Residential calls are also made. The supervisors asked EMS Director Dale Rayhons for a percentage of Hancock County calls responded to versus those in Winnebago County. Rayhons felt the number was close to 15%. The supervisors then asked him to go before the Hancock County Board of Supervisors and ask for that 15% and Winnebago County would make up the difference. Rayhons said that he would do so.
There are reasons why Rayhons is asking for funding. The first has to do with short staffing at the EMS Unit in Forest City. A paramedic has resigned forcing Rayhons to now look for a replacement while members in the unit will have to work extra time on call, to make up the difference. The second is a shortage of qualified paramedics and EMT’s in the north Iowa area. Rayhons is advertising for someone to fill the vacancy at the EMS Unit, but if they have to train someone, it will take up to a year at a qualified college or university to do so.
Rayhons was asked about the possibility of doing what Wright County has already done, making emergency medical services an essential service. This means that the county or state would take over funding for the unit. It would mean increased taxes on residents within the county to pay for the department as well. According to Rayhons, the county would not make any money on this venture.
The supervisors wanted to know if paramedics were an essential service or could the county get by with just Emergency Medical Technicians?
Those who would be interested in applying for the paramedic position, should contact the Forest City Hall at (641) 585 3574.