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Where you live in Iowa determines how long it will take an ambulance to reach you and the care you will receive

Emergency medical services (EMS) in Iowa are at a crossroads. Where you live not only dictates how long it will take an ambulance to reach you, but also the type of care you receive from a first responder. If you live in rural Iowa, that first responder is most likely a volunteer.

Rural EMS are struggling to recruit and retain new volunteers, dealing with an aging population, generational and cultural divides and have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic for almost two years.

EMS personnel from across rural Iowa join Ben Kieffer to discuss these issues and how they plan to combat them, as funding at the county level was restructured this past June at the Iowa Statehouse.

Iowa State University's Dave Peters also joins the show to help listeners understand how the state of rural Iowa has been impacting EMS.


  • Spencer Armstrong, vice president of Buffalo Center Volunteer Ambulance
  • Nick Jellison, deputy chief of EMS for the Hiawatha Fire Department
  • Julie Scadden, director of the Dysart Ambulance Service
  • Dave Peters, professor of rural sociology at Iowa State University
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Rick Brewer was a producer for IPR's Talk of Iowa and River to River