Author: Lauren Cantley
It may come as a shock that not all states consider emergency medical services (EMS) as essential, but such is the case for the state of Idaho, as mentioned in the article “Capitol Letters: Senate Moves to Reform EMS Funding,” written by Ryan Suppe, which discusses EMS recognition and funding issues in Idaho. The state does consider law enforcement and fire services as essential, but not EMS, which greatly affects the funding available to EMS providers, most of whom are volunteers. Many rural areas and underserved communities currently struggle to provide EMS services due to the lack of financial support, and are relying on community fundraisers to keep afloat.
The lack of funding has sparked a motion for change; Senate Majority Caucus Chair Mark Harris, R-Soda Springs, recently asked the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to draft legislation recognizing EMS as essential and establishing a statewide EMS coordination and funding system. This follows a 2021 study completed by the Idaho Office of Performance Evaluations which found that EMS agencies across the state, are understaffed and underfunded, especially those in rural areas. While there is some opposition across the state at the idea of consolidating services, overall, the recognition as an essential services would provide additional funding and allow for better equipped and trained staff and volunteers.