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EMS Reliability Report March 2023

In the fall of 2022, the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health assessed the reliability of the state’s 911 ambulance response. A survey was sent to all EMS agencies that provide emergency ambulance services and 216 EMS Service Directors responded (60% of those invited to participate). Responses revealed that the ambulance response system in many communities is under severe strain and in critical need of immediate intervention. The primary issues affecting reliability were identified as inadequate staffing and a lack of financial resources to address staffing and other operational needs.

2023 EMS Reliability Report

The strain on reliability is a state-wide issue.  Staffing and funding challenges are being experienced by agencies in every region, by agencies in rural and urban areas, and by agencies utilizing both volunteer and paid staff. EMS agencies in rural areas and those that utilize a volunteer staffing model have the greatest risk of reliability issues.

Many EMS agencies lack adequate numbers of personnel to staff their ambulances, increasing the risk of being unable to respond to 911 calls. In the past 12 months:

  • 41% of EMS agencies reported that they had periods in their schedule where they did not have adequate staffing to respond to a request for an ambulance response.
  • 78% had responded to another agency’s request for mutual aid due to a lack of staffing at the first EMS agency.
  • 41% are operating with six or fewer staff members providing 80% of staffing hours.

To improve ambulance response reliability, the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health suggests the implementation of recurring funding for EMS and employer-funded training, along with other recommendations.

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