COVID-19 Town Hall: Rural and Tribal EMS Considerations in the COVID-19 Era

June 11, 2020

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Key take-aways:

  • Workforce protection is even more critical in rural/tribal agencies, as there is little to no redundancies in staffing with limited mutual aid options.
  • Public health messaging in rural and tribal areas is challenging not only due to geographic expanse but often a lack of electricity, much less Wi-Fi or technology.
  • Rural and tribal EMS providers are a valuable avenue for public health messaging, as they are known and trusted by the patients and also speak their language, know their customs, and engender their confidence.
  • Cultural norms of multi-generational housing among tribal nations necessitated development of isolation facilities when family members became ill.
  • Isolation facilities may be staffed with medical personnel furloughed from other institutions.
  • Rural EMS must move to a system where services are rendered to those who need it as opposed only to whoever is paying for it.


NAEMSP President David K. Tan, MD, EMT-T, FAAEM, FAEMS


  • Jenna White, MD, EMS physician; associate professor of Emergency Medicine, University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, NM.
  • Julie Houle, MD, MHA, emergency physician in northern Minnesota.
  • Joy Crook, MD, associate professor and vice chair, clinical affairs, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of New Mexico; New Mexico State EMS Medical Director; Medical Director for AMR in Central New Mexico; member of the Secretary of Health’s Medical Advisory Team during the Covid pandemic.
  • Allen Lewis, MPA, CEMSO, Paramedic: Fire Chief, Virginia Fire Department,  Virginia, Minnesota; adjunct professor, College of Safety and Emergency Services, Columbia Southern University


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