Date of Award

Spring 5-9-2020

Document Type

Honors Thesis


Health Science

First Advisor

Jonelle Hook

Second Advisor

Jamie Turgeon-Drake

Third Advisor

Shane Nordyke


Emergency Medical System, Rural, EMS, Healthcare


Emergency Medical Services is a key component of South Dakota’s rural healthcare network. However, research suggests that rural EMS agencies are ill-equipped to provide high quality emergency medical care. Delays or difficulty in delivery of care is exacerbated by sparsely spread resources. Evaluations of rural EMS agencies show that lack of volunteers and insufficient funding due to current reimbursement models are threatening the continued operation of rural EMS agencies. A survey conducted in 2016 by South Dakota Department of Health’s EMS Program and SafeTech Solutions, LLP, a national EMS consulting firm revealed that South Dakota’s EMS agencies are struggling to maintain a staffed agency. The results of this study confirm the discrepancies between the delivery of care in urban vs rural settings and bring into question the reliability of rural EMS agencies. Some rural states have piloted innovative programs to address the issue and integrate their rural EMS system into a larger healthcare network. But these are small measures, limited in scope to the grand scale of the rural crisis. It is hoped that more research brings policy change to the volunteer EMS model in order to address the issue that rural EMS agencies are facing.



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