SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Officials in northwest Iowa are scrambling to line up an emergency ambulance service after a nonprofit announced it’ll cease assistance at the end of the year.

Siouxland Paramedics Inc. officials announced last month it’ll cease 911 services in Sioux City and North Sioux City as it tries moving toward a more sustainable model, the Sioux City Journal reported . They said a growing number of uninsured patients, declining Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements, and increased personnel costs have prompted the move.

A statement from the Siouxland Paramedics Association union said the company has been challenged by the presence of Omaha-based Midwest Medical Transport Company.

Sioux City Fire Rescue Chief Tom Everett said officials are considering absorbing future 911 services into the department or contracting with another private company.

Though the city owns all of Siouxland Paramedics’ ambulances, absorbing the services wouldn’t be profitable, Everett said. The city is currently considering providing those 911 services within city limits.

No private companies have expressed interest in offering 911 transport services in the city, but some have demonstrated interest in non-emergency transport services, Everett said.

North Sioux City Fire Chief Bill Pappas said officials hope to form a partnership with Sioux City, but are also considering how to raise money to staff the city’s own service.

“We have a volunteer staff, and we can take this over temporarily, I guess, but we don’t have the staffing to do it continually 24/7, 365 days a year,” he said.

Outlying cities in nearby rural areas are also waiting to see how their service will be affected, and many officials fear a decrease in the quality of service.

Siouxland Paramedics assists volunteer paramedics in Akron with critical patients on about 16 percent of calls, said Lynette Kiger, the city’s EMS director. She said she’s worried about increasing risk to those in rural areas without the service.


Information from: Sioux City Journal, http://www.siouxcityjournal.com