July 14, 2024

Hoffman considers initiatives to boost EMT numbers

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Jake Sias
Grant County Herald

Ryan DeSmet, Aric Risbrudt, and Heidi Huntley provided an in-depth discussion on the challenges and updates concerning the Hoffman Volunteer Ambulance Service at the city council meeting. DeSmet unveiled a revised pay schedule for the ambulance service, aiming to increase the compensation for EMTs preparing the Incident Commander report from $50 to $70. The proposal maintains the current full rate at $50, with the half rate escalating from $25 to $35 per call, and EMR compensation rising from $25 to $40 for full rate calls and from $12.50 to $20 for half rate calls, set to take effect on January 1, 2024.

Highlighting the broader issue of personnel shortages in small town ambulance services, DeSmet advocated for community engagement strategies, including the distribution of flyers in “Welcome Bags” to attract new EMTs and firefighters. To broaden the recruitment pool, DeSmet has proposed allowing high school juniors to enroll in EMT classes, traditionally offered only to seniors, noting no age requirement for EMT certification in Minnesota. This initiative would necessitate city insurance adjustments to cover under-18 participants.

Public works superintendent, Jared Olson, expressed willingness to train as a First Responder and support ambulance drives during work hours, potentially enhancing daytime emergency response capabilities. This proposal prompted discussions on operational logistics, such as clocking out during calls.

Aric Risbrudt sought to clarify the role of Lake Region in supporting local ambulance services, stressing the importance of collaborative efforts across Grant County to address staffing and resource challenges. Despite Lake Region’s adequate staffing, vehicle shortages remain a concern, contrasting with Ashby’s vehicle availability but staff shortages, and Hoffman’s dual challenges.

Risbrudt outlined ongoing legislative discussions aimed at addressing a statewide ambulance service deficit estimated at $120 million. He shared insights into a proposed “sprint car” paramedic pilot program, mirroring Grant County’s rapid response model, which could enhance emergency medical coverage in the region.

Furthermore, Risbrudt advocated for financial support from Grant County, requesting $200,000 annually to fund an additional rapid response vehicle and establish a pension fund for ambulance service members. He also mentioned the potential for Ashby and Hoffman to join this pension fund, contingent on securing additional funds from neighboring counties.

Emphasizing collaboration and community support, Risbrudt reiterated Lake Region’s commitment to aiding Hoffman and Ashby ambulance services without assuming ownership. DeSmet concluded with a commitment to operational resilience, underscoring the importance of mutual aid agreements and the ongoing need for volunteer recruitment to sustain emergency services.

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