Western South Dakota's Only Ranch Station
EMS crisis highlighted in Sturgis documentary
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EMS crisis highlighted in Sturgis documentary

STURGIS, S.D. – The current crisis in the E.M.S. system was on display Sunday during a new documentary that was shown at the Sturgis Community Center.

The documentary, titled “Honorable But Broken – EMS in Crisis,” explores the lives and careers of E.M.T.’s and paramedics during what is described as the ‘collapse of the E.M.S. system.’

Sturgis Ambulance Director Shawn Fisher brought the film to the Northern Black Hills. She has been a tireless advocate for upgrading the E.M.S. system, which she describes as a in a crisis mode with a bleak future.

That is because E.M.S. is not considered an essential service in South Dakota. Fisher, who has lobbied in Pierre to make E.M.S. services essential, fears without change, more and more ambulance services are going to close.

Fisher says the problem is a lack of financial support.

Sturgis Ambulance is funded primarily by patient reimbursements and fundraising efforts. However, Medicare and Medicaid and even private insurance do not reimburse ambulance services fairly and in some cases, not at all.

Fisher says of the 2,180 patient contacts the Sturgis Ambulance had in 2023, no bill could be submitted for 1,232 of those calls.

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