ICAHN video encourages EMS participation in rural areas

Due largely to limited budgets, increased responsibilities and education requirements, the rural EMS workforce has steadily declined for around three decades. Couple this with an increased population of elderly residents in most rural areas, many who often call 911 when access to primary care is not available, and a gap in healthcare is firmly established.

In an effort to bolster EMS workforce numbers in rural Illinois, the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network and its rural hospital membership throughout the state recently teamed up with TAG Healthcare Marketing to create a promotional video geared specifically for recruitment and retention of rural EMS personnel.


“No matter how low the call volume is, ambulances still need to be fully equipped and personnel properly trained to respond at a moment’s notice,” said Brian Ashpole, ICAHN Data and Grant Project Coordinator. “In this video, we are happy to promote some outstanding EMS personnel and the work they do from both Kirby Medical Center and Gibson Area Hospital & Health Services. It is our hope that all our hospitals and partners, will widely distribute this video link to all their media outlets, gaining coverage throughout the state and ultimately having more people decide to become EMTs and paramedics.”

ICAHN’s EMS Sustainability Grant was made possible through the Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program through HRSA (Health Resources & Services Administration). The $52,000-plus grant award was utilized to create the video, create and activate the Medrills mobile app, and offer webinars focused on basic EMT training, paramedic training, EMT-Intermediate training, an EMT refresher, Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) training, Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) training, and Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) training.

Use of the Medrills app offers a variety of different training exercises which, upon successful completion, EMS personnel can obtain continuing education credits. Illinois paramedics are required to have 100 hours of CEs every four years, EMT-Intermediate learners need 80 hours every four years, and EMT-basic learners need 60 hours every four years.

“Use of the app and all training, for that matter, has been very well-received; first of all, because of its convenience and content, but secondly, because all training is free,” said Ashpole about the grant that concludes its first year on August 31. “We plan to write this grant again and hopefully expand upon it.”

ICAHN’s EMS Advisory Committee includes three ambulance directors: Chris Troxell of Mason District Hospital, Havana; Crystal Alexander of Kirby Medical Center, Monticello; and Greg Scott, Gibson Area Hospital & Health Services, Gibson City.

All critical access and small, rural hospitals owning their respective ambulance services were invited to participate. Each of the 10 hospitals who committed to the program received $3,000 per location to apply towards basic life support, advanced cardiac life support, and pediatric advanced life support certification. The 10 participating hospitals include: Horizon Health, Paris; Gibson Area Hospital & Health Services, Gibson City; Genesis Medical Center, Aledo; Clay County Hospital, Flora; Massac Memorial Hospital, Metropolis; Wabash General Hospital, Mt. Carmel; Kirby Medical Center, Monticello; Mason District Hospital, Havana; Morrison Community Hospital, Morrison; and Boyd Healthcare Services, Carrollton.

Webinars included “Handtevy Method: Prehospital Pediatric Care"; "Infectious Disease Management in Prehospital and Emergency Care”; “ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI) in Prehospital Care”; “The Role of EMS in Community Outreach and Education”; “Ambulance Documentation: Ensuring Services are Billable”; and “Communication Strategies in EMS.”