City needs ambulance help

By Travis Mounts
    Whenever somebody needs emergency help in Conway Springs, the Conway Springs EMS is ready to help. But now EMS needs help from the community.
    Conway Springs EMS has been facing a shortfall of volunteers for some time. However, there have been no new volunteers who have stepped forward.
    That means the department will have to hire part-time help to make sure all shifts are covered. A help-wanted ad can be found in this week’s Star-Argosy classified section.
    Conway Springs community leaders are planning a town hall meeting to discuss the future of emergency medical services and how that might impact local finances. No date has been set.
    State law requires that at least two people be on call for each ambulance, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Conway Springs EMS maintains two ambulance units, which means four people must be available at any time. The most challenging time of day to staff is during daytime hours, when many current and potential volunteers are out of the city working and not available.
    The Star-Argosy published a series of stories earlier this year about the problems facing Conway Springs and other ambulance services in Sumner County. In Argonia, the solution was to turn its license over to Norwich EMS, which so far has been able to maintain its volunteer force. When volunteers are available, an Argonia-based ambulance will respond.
    In March, Conway Springs EMS director Jim Brozovich said the situation was critical. He said the department had too many people leave, and more long-term volunteers were wanting to retire. At the time, he said a paid EMS staff was the likely solution.
    “We’re progressing that way. We just can’t keep people,” he said in March.
    Moving to a paid service looks to the path for many services. Belle Plaine already has moved in that direction, with 18 part-time employees. Most of them are full-time EMTs elsewhere. In Caldwell discussions are underway about moving to a paid EMS service. Sumner County Hospital District No. 1 (Caldwell Hospital) currently contracts with a private company to cover shifts when there are not enough volunteers available.