Good Neighbors EMS Fund ready to aid those who serve
5 Mar 2022
Healthcare, Community, News, Economic Development
There is a Chinese proverb which states: “A good neighbor is a found treasure.”
A group of people in Morrison County have taken up the cause to provide a gem of a resource for those who give of themselves for others.
As an internal medicine physician at CHI St. Gabriel’s and the Morrison County EMS Medical Director, Dr. Mark Moe saw a glaring need. The 11 local EMS (first response) teams in the county seemed to have money for training, but not for supplies and equipment. Wanting to change that, Good Neighbors EMS Fund was born.
“They have a lot of members, but they’re all volunteer,” Moe said. “All of that equipment cost comes out of their pockets or whatever they raise on their own little fundraising things all year, whether it be a chili cook-off or whatever. It’s not enough.”
Jumping into action
Moe said there are about 135 volunteer first responders in addition to 36 law enforcement officers and 10 fire departments in Morrison County. They serve more than 34,000 residents over 1,153 square miles. Those individuals respond to calls for help from residents ranging from those who are having chest pain to people who have been in a car accident and everything in between.
For medical personnel — most of whom are volunteer — that means they’re using different dressings, stints and other equipment that has to be replenished before the next call. Those costs can add up quickly.
As a result, Moe said not everybody is well equipped to respond to an emergency at the drop of a hat. Most team members have to drive to the team’s garage or storage area to pick up supplies, and then head back out to wherever they might be needed.
“Well, that’s minutes,” Moe said. “We all know that time is brain; time is heart muscle. We have to shorten that time as much as we can.”
Good Neighbors EMS Fund is hoping to leverage its ability to get supplies to local teams by leveraging a bigger buying power. Through donations, the 501(c)(3) can go to a supplier and buy supplies in bulk at a lower cost and then distribute it to local teams.
Moe said they wanted to start with where they saw needs. He saw a huge disparity between the EMS teams across the county. Some squads get financial support from a local charitable organization, while others are not as fortunate.
“We want the care to be the same everywhere; to have the same equipment everywhere,” he said.
The first project the eight-member board is undertaking is to ensure every first responder in the county has a jump bag. These will contain oxygen, blood pressure cuffs, dressings and any other equipment a responder might need so they can pick up wherever they are and head straight to a call.
Moe said each bag costs around $900. The supplies also have to be replaced on a regular basis as they’re used up.
“Who can afford that?” he said. “A volunteer’s not going to pay for that. The team can’t come up with — a team’s got 11, 12 members. That’s a lot of money, right?”
A long time coming
The process of getting the nonprofit organization off the ground was a long one. Moe said he initially had the idea about two years ago. In the midst of a pandemic and the government shutdowns and everything else that came with it, just getting documentation and paperwork processed took a long time.
Fellow Good Neighbors EMS Fund Board Member Stacy Maciej — a first responder herself — said the board had its first meeting in August 2020. It took almost a full year to get all of the paperwork done, and Moe said it didn’t get to the point where it could begin accepting donations until October 2021.
“All that was just frustration for me, because I wanted to get this going,” Moe said. “It’s just the way it was. But now it’s up and running and we’re starting to get some dollars. It’s starting to come.”
Early on, the organization is focusing mainly on securing donations from charitable organizations. It is also trying to seek grant funding. That said, it will also accept funds from private donors and businesses.