OTTUMWA — Though a partnership between Indian Hills Community College and Van Buren County Hospital, there will soon be 15 emergency management technicians in that area.

According to Indian Hills Continuing Education Coordinator Lori Reeves, outreach classes like the one in Van Buren County "are vital to provide opportunities for the training needed to assure EMS services in our smaller communities. Indian Hills is thrilled to partner with Van Buren County Hospital to make this one possible."

Van Buren County Hospital Ambulance Manager William Cline worked to promote the training opportunity to other local agencies, and made them aware of the funding that was available to help offset training costs, Reeves said. As a result, Douds First Responders, Bonaparte EMS, Cantril First Responders, Eldon Fire & Rescue, Farmington EMS and Davis County Hospital are all supporting participants in the course.

There is a shortage of trained EMS personnel in rural Iowa, and cost to provide training is one of the biggest hurdles for volunteer organizations.

"Indian Hills takes our role as the regional workforce provider very seriously," said Matt Thompson, president of Indian Hills. "A few years ago we recognized that it was an increasing challenge for many of our health care organizations to budget for ongoing training for their staff, or in some cases volunteers. We know how important this training is for the health and safety of our communities, and we needed to find a way to make it more accessible."

Thompson noted the college donates $80,000 per year for scholarships for health care organizations, and that each organization can apply for a scholarship to cover 70% of the training cost, up to $4,200 in scholarship dollars per organization per year.

The current class of EMT students will finish its training at the end of the month and begin state certification exams Feb. 6. The class was taught by paramedics Vicki Gallaher and Craig Lydolph.

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