EMS Planners

A team of six contracted EMS Planners has been created that will work with the 44 counties to conduct environmental scans and document:
- Current EMS response capabilities, and
- Best practices, and
- Resource requirements for a sustainable, reliable EMS response
Background / Overview

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in Idaho is provided within a framework of organizations (EMS agencies) that vary in patient transport and clinical capabilities. Some EMS agencies use paid, career response personnel while others rely on volunteers. While there is considerable variation in the staffing patterns, one consistent attribute is rural communities tend to rely on volunteers to staff their EMS agencies. Demand for EMS is rapidly increasing across the state due to population growth, changing demographics, and increasing travel and tourism. The reliance on volunteer EMS personnel and the well documented challenges facing the recruitment and retention of volunteers puts rural communities at risk of much longer EMS response times due to the lack of EMS personnel.

There have been several efforts to better understand the challenges facing the organizations and personnel who provide EMS in Idaho. The Idaho Office of Performance Evaluation (OPE) published a study in 2010 on the governance of EMS agencies in Idaho. In 2012 and 2018, the Bureau of EMS & Preparedness published reports detailing the concerns and possible solutions specific to volunteer EMS personnel. In 2021, OPE published a report on volunteer EMS providers that provides several actionable recommendations.

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee, Board of Health & Welfare and the Health Quality Planning Commission reviewed the findings of the latest OPE report. The Health Quality Planning Commission asked the Department of Health & Welfare to convene a Task Force to find policy solutions (including draft legislative language) that will help assure availability of a reliable EMS response throughout the state. The Department convened the EMS Sustainability Task Force (EMSSTF) in June 2022. The EMSSTF continues to hold monthly meetings.

The EMSSTF intends to have a draft bill prepared for consideration during the 2024 legislative session

Group of EMS responders
EMS Sustainability Task Force
The Idaho EMS Sustainability Task Force is a comprehensive group of subject matter experts working together to find solutions to the challenges facing those who provide the emergency medical response throughout Idaho.
The map overlays EMS agencies with the areas of responsibility (AOR) for the EMS Planners.

Planner Updates


EMS Planner Team Monthly Summary

Kicked off January with a virtual meeting with the Bureau followed by an in-person planner and Bureau working session. The team has been busy setting the foundation for the project as it relates to the Bureau’s vision and the project’s scope of work. These initial working sessions have also been followed by one (virtual) planner working session. Primary topics have revolved around the identified EMS system and environmental scan to be completed within each county.

Data for this scan is intended to be obtained through the Bureau’s IGEMS (Idaho’s Gateway for EMS) database (2021-2022 data), supplemented by individual EMS agency data from 2015-2022 calendar years. This data will be gathered by independent research from each planner, and through multiple interview sessions with each EMS agency and respective county representatives. Both subjective and objective data will be gathered, and each planner will lay the framework toward building their county’s plan document. These plans are intended to be county focused and not individual agency focused. Identifying system sustainability needs related to demand, coverage, workforce, resources/capital, and generalized finances will need to be included.

The planner team has scheduled weekly virtual working sessions to maintain regular communications as this project gains speed and finalizes its data needs and processes. Additional in-person working sessions are anticipated (with one scheduled for March), allowing for direct project discussions and data dissection.

Looking into February, planner team outreach is underway with the scheduling of initial stakeholder interviews. In the upcoming months, efforts will be focused towards data gathering. As the team finalizes its data benchmarks, direct countywide information will help drive the EMS system/environmental scan. This will help outline the demand, coverage, and financial gaps that exist within each county’s system.


EMS Planner Team Monthly Summary

The planner team has been off to a strong start, both within their individual AORs and collectively as a project team. Individually, each planner is approaching counties and individual agencies within their AOR in a manner that is most productive for them. Some planners are taking a broad approach by connecting with all stakeholders at once, while others are focusing on a county-by-county or stakeholder audience. The variety of approaches means that some stakeholder interviews are being conducted virtually, individually in-person, and/or formal settings as an agenda item during a commissioner meeting. The end goal for each planner is to connect and establish a working relationship with each stakeholder that promotes conversation and information sharing. One of the challenges identified by some of the planners has been making an initial connection. Individual emails have been sent to various identified agency contacts and county officials, but follow-up has not always been received. This serves as a gentle reminder to verify that your agency contact information is up-to-date with the Bureau's license management system (IGEMS). Please check your email inbox and possibly the spam/junk folder if you are identified as the agency’s contact. If your agency or county has not been contacted with an introductory email as of yet, please refer to the Bureau’s website (www. idahoems. org>EMS Sustainability Task Force> EMS Planners Site) to identify your AOR’s planner and to reach out to establish that connection.

Collectively, the planners have continued to meet weekly to focus their attention toward the identified EMS system/environmental scan data elements. Toward the middle of the month, construction of a surveying tool began in an effort to facilitate the collection of large-scale information and to supplement direct stakeholder interviews. This tool and its contents will continue to be refined. The Bureau and additional EMS entities will need to approve this survey tool in early to mid-March. From there, it will be introduced to EMS agencies as a means to collect data relevant to this project, allowing planners to compare findings from all counties in one centralized platform. This county-focused data (not necessarily agency-specific data) will be used to construct each county's plan in the upcoming months.

Looking into March the planner team will continue to:

  • Meet weekly to discuss project progress and data tracking items
  • Attend an in-person working session
  • Engage in EMS committee/task force meetings

Planners will focus their initial efforts toward completing their county-focused EMS system/environmental scans throughout March, April, and into May while drafting county plans nearing May and June.



Met with Kootenai EMS, Kootenai Fire, Bonner County Commissioners Precinct 3, Schweitzer Fire Department, and Bonner General Hospital.
- Rescheduling visits with Latah County and Bonner due to weather.


Met with Lewiston Fire, Riggins/Salmon River Ambulance District, Association of Counties, Winchester QRU, McCall Fire, Donnelly Rural Fire, Payette County, Lowell QRU, and Valley County Commissioners.


Met with Camas County Ambulance, Ada County, Acute Rescue, Parma Ambulance, Elmore Ambulance, Garden Valley Fire District, Gowen Field Fire Department, Prairie QRU, Orchard Fire District, and Ada County Commissioners.


Met with Hagerman Fire, Blaine County Medical Director, Minidoka Memorial, Minidoka Fire Protection District, Burley Fire Department, Blaine County Commissioners, and Sun Valley Fire Department.


Met with Swan Valley Fire and Rescue, Shelley Firth QRU, Idaho Falls Fire Department, Fort Hall Fire and EMS, Blackfoot Fire Department, Star Valley Ambulance (Wyoming), Bannock County Ambulance, and a medical director.


Met with Clark County EMS, Fremont County EMS, Central Fire/EMS, Madison County Fire/EMS, Teton County Fire and Rescue.



Bob (East AOR) and Lena (Southeast AOR) had an EMS Sustainability Planning Team table at the EIRMC/Air Methods EMS Conference in Idaho Falls on Saturday March 4th. There were over 300 EMS personnel in attendance and the planners made contact with EMT's, agency administrators, and colleagues. PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT

Planner Team

AORs and Bios
North Joe Palfini Boundary, Bonner, Kootenai, Benewah, Latah, Shoshone and Clearwater  Link
North Central Andrew Mentzer Nez Perce, Lewis, Idaho, Adams, Valley, Washington and Payette Link
Southwest Tim Nowak/PCG Gem, Boise, Canyon, Ada, Owyhee, Elmore, and Camas Link
South Central

Dawn Rae & Jason Ferrera

Twin Falls, Blaine, Lincoln, Jerome, Minidoka, Cassia and Gooding Link
Southeast Lena Dickerson Oneida, Franklin, Bear Lake, Caribou, Bannock, Bingham, Bonneville and Power Link
East Bob Foster Lemhi, Custer, Butte, Clark, Jefferson, Fremont, Madison and Teton  Link