Emergencies in rural areas
Rural emergencies are often compounded by distance and that is something to keep in mind if you contemplate moving to the country. People should consider their chronic health problems and evaluate the possibility of needing emergency attention. Accidents also happen and that is another aspect of rural living; it’s the known factors that need to be thought about ahead of time.
Depending on available staff, ambulance crews may have paramedics or some level of emergency medical technicians on board. Drivers, not required to be EMTs, are also helpful to have on the roster. Having drivers allows fewer medical personnel to respond to any particular incident. Unless you are actually on an ambulance crew, the most help you can be in an emergency situation in a rural area is to either go yourself or send someone else to meet the ambulance and lead it to the scene. This has traditionally been a necessity in wide-open rural areas, even when neighbors knew each other well. Now with increased subdivisions, a constant barrage of new residents, and secluded homes, it is increasingly necessary. Ponder possible emergencies and actions that you could take to help emergency personnel locate your home. Prominent numbers on a house or driveway are the first and most imperative step. GPS systems are not always reliable away from towns and when possible, they should not be the sole provider of incident location.
Generally, unless your injuries are life-threatening, patients will be transported by ground ambulance. This can take a lot of time. We are talking commonly at least 30 minutes of transport time, after a patient is loaded into an ambulance. Bear in mind that does not count the time it takes to assemble a volunteer ambulance crew and drive to the scene. Those of us near rural towns that have 24/7 paramedics at the ambulance site are fortunate indeed.
Like rural fire departments and ambulances, rural law enforcement response time is longer than in town. It also offers some unique challenges. To be sure, the crime rate is lower than in a city, but situations are no less hazardous. Domestic disputes and drunk drivers have the same hazards no matter the jurisdiction.
It gets interesting when dispatch notifies the law that cattle are out on a highway. First the law officer and dispatch attempt to determine to whom the cattle belong. That requires knowledge of where the rural residents live, the type of animals they have, and where those animals belong. Knowledge of reading brands is also helpful; brands show ownership. While dispatch tries to ascertain ownership, law enforcement officers try to herd the animals away from the highway. Officers usually are in their vehicles but they have been known to chase on foot, if necessary. Even though you might think that enforcing the law in a rural area might not be challenging, where else would a lawman have the opportunity to be a drover during duty hours?
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