U of M study: Rural hospital closures straining public EMS services

Closures to rural hospitals in Minnesota has strained EMS providers across the state, a new University of Minnesota study shows. 

The School of Public Health recently published the study in the Academic Emergency Medicine journal. It shows that the average length of ambulance trips for municipal EMS agencies went up 22 percent near where rural hospitals recently closed. For private EMS agencies, the length of trips went up 10 percent. 

The total number of ambulance trips did not change, however.

The study found that hospital closures were a much bigger burden for those public EMS agencies, which often face tighter budgets and limited personnel, the University of Minnesota said in a release about the study. 

Researchers found that public EMS agencies saw increased wear and tear on equipment, employee burnout and a large amount of "dead time" spent returning to ambulance bases. 

The Public Health School called on policymakers to increase funding to these EMS agencies to bolster them in areas where hospitals have closed.