DES MOINES – Today, Governor Kim Reynolds, Lt. Governor Adam Gregg, and the Iowa Economic Development Authority announced that three $50,000 grants have been awarded to Calhoun County Public Health, Cass County Board of Health, and Van Buren County Hospital to test an innovative program aimed at decreasing emergency response times in rural Iowa. The total grant funding of $150,000 was made available through the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa Initiative.
The program, called Iowa United First Aid, is a model that was adapted from the Israeli nonprofit United Hatzalah (which translates to “United Rescue”). The Israeli model uses technology to crowdsource nearby volunteer emergency responders and has driven response times down to an average of ninety seconds in cities like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and to three minutes on average across the country.
In Iowa, the program will equip trained volunteers with an app on their phone that delivers 911 dispatch alerts when an emergency occurs in their vicinity. Volunteers will be trained and supplied with the materials and equipment necessary to perform first aid, bleeding control, CPR, and use of an automated external defibrillator (AED). The goal is for volunteers to quickly respond to emergencies in nearby areas and stabilize victims while an ambulance is on the way, decreasing the amount of time it takes to receive lifesaving assistance.
“I’m proud that the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa Initiative created the Iowa United First Aid program,” said Governor Reynolds. “This is what the initiative was intended to do – seek innovative ways to impact the quality of rural life in our state. Iowans deeply value service to their communities and their neighbors, and I believe this program and its volunteers will make a tremendous difference in improving access to emergency services in rural communities and saving lives.”
“This model holds real promise in using technology and innovation to solve a serious challenge facing our rural communities,” said Lt. Governor Gregg. “I appreciate and commend the applicants who have stepped up to lead the way.”
Applicants were required to provide a minimum $25,000 local match for the grant, for at least $75,000 in total funding to support this program. While costs vary, it is estimated that this amount can support training and equipping a minimum of 25 volunteers in each county. Additionally, the Iowa Rural Development Council has provided grant funds which will assist in the purchase of first aid supply bags, equipment, and safety identification vests for volunteers. The technology has been donated by NowForce and PulsePoint for the program’s pilot year.
For more information on Iowa United First Aid and other Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa Initiative programs, visit iowaeda.com/empower-rural-iowa.