Small town EMS using out-of-town volunteers to try and fill the void

CONWAY SPRINGS, Kan. (KSNW) –  Members of the Conway Springs volunteer EMS are having to pull long hours, due to a shortage of help.

It has forced them to bring in volunteers from out of town, just to meet the state’s requirement of having two crew members staff an ambulance around the clock.

Billie Nickell is an Advanced EMT with Conway Springs EMS.  She’s been volunteering since 1990.

“When i’m on days, I’m on from 3 a.m. until 6 p.m., that’s a 15 hour day,” said Nickell.

Long days because they’ve simply not had enough people to cover what is needed.

“A lot of our people have been putting in 200 hours a month, on top of full time jobs,” said Dawn Cornejo, Conway Spring EMS Service Director.

Cornejo worked with Conway Spring EMS since 2006 and works full time as a Paramedic for Mulvane EMS.

She says they have nine volunteers who regularly take call.

In search for more help, Cornejo says she began reaching out to people she knows.

“We have five people who come from out of town, we have one of those out of town people who spends three to four days per week here,” said Cornejo.

She says the people she’s pulled in are from several other communities.

“We have a couple people come in from Wichita, one from Goddard, one from Derby, and one from Winfield,” said Cornejo.

One of those is Ryan Souders.

Souders works full time as a Advanced Emergency Technician with Mulvane EMS.

He says he normally makes the 35 minute drive from Wichita to volunteer his time.

“I’ve worked in small town EMS and I know what it is like to struggle and be around the struggle of having to fill a roster and fill a schedule,” said Souders.

Which is why Souders says he’s willing to pitch in and help out.

“Knowing that I’m helping out some of my fellow EMS providers, I mean, if I can at least take some of the burden off of them from having to constantly respond to the calls down here,” said Souders.

It’s something that Cornejo says she’s appreciative of.

“It’s overwhelming to know that we have such friends that are willing to do things like this,” said Cornejo.

As well as those who’ve put in long hours on a regular basis, like Nickell.

“It makes a difference, we need the help,” said Nickell.

Cornjeo says that they are about five volunteers short right now.

Filling those spots, Cornejo says, would help ease the burden for herself and the rest of the volunteers who on-call on a regular basis.

She says volunteers get paid $1.00 an hour for their service.

If you are interested in volunteering for the Conway Springs EMS, you can visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CSEMS/