(HIGHLAND, Kan.) Ken Stewart has spent a large chunk of his working years as an EMT, and much of that time was served in Doniphan county.
With more than 20 years experience, Stewart is ready to retire this summer. When he does, it will likely bring big changes to the way ambulance services are run in the part of the county covered by the Doniphan Co. Fire Dist #2.
Stewart is one of three full time staff members currently running EMS services for Western parts of the county including Highland,
The rest of the staff are all volunteers, and there aren’t many of them to go around
"We have gone through a lot of volunteers that have dedicated their time to work with us," Stewart said. "We’ve gotten down to where the number of people to provide the service is too few with just volunteers and what little staff we do have."
The issue is all too common in many rural communities according to Stewart, he said many have had to come up with ways to manage with a small staff.
Results have been mixed.
"One community lost their ambulance," He said. "Another community almost lost it but they decided to increase their budget."
Stewart’s solution for the district has come in the form of outsourcing, he’s set up a contract with American Medical Response, a nationwide EMS company with a location in Topeka to help with staffing.
Stewart said the change reflects the state of Rural EMS services near and far.
"It would be great to be back at the local level," He said. " That’s just not happening in the state of Kansas or nationwide."
Stewart said there's been a push to start up a county-wide ambulance service in Doniphan county, and that he's been in contact with state officials regarding the need for more volunteers.