Implications of Rural Ambulance Service Closures
Rural ambulance services are essential for the health and safety of rural residents. The loss of the coverage of a rural ambulance services poses two distinct challenges impacting both the area previously covered as well as the adjacent units. The local area with lost coverage has the potential for an increase in adverse outcomes related to ambulance service utilization due to longer travel times. Ambulance service closure leads to an increase in workload for adjacent ambulance services still in operation. This increase in workload can create a strain on resources related to covering the service area of the ambulance unit that closed.
The purpose of this project was to examine closed ambulance services and those ambulance services adjacent to the closed units. The ambulance services adjacent to those that closed were be examined for service area, workload, and staffing for one year prior to and one year after the adjacent service closure. In the first stage of this study, all emergency medical services directors for all US states and territories were surveyed to identify closed services. The second stage included eight key informant interviews to gain a larger perspective of those issues facing rural ambulance services.