The Pandemic Exacerbates the 'Paramedic Paradox' in Rural America


April 20, 2022

Miles City Fire and Rescue Capt. Eddy Kanduch (left) and firefighter Tanner Gordon work with a new training simulator purchased with a federal grant to help crews in rural areas deliver emergency care. (Sarah Lewin)

Even after she's clocked out, Sarah Lewin keeps a Ford Explorer outfitted with medical gear parked outside her house. As one of just four paramedics covering five counties across vast, sprawling eastern Montana, she knows a call that someone had a heart attack, was in a serious car crash, or needs life support and is 100-plus miles away from the nearest hospital can come at any time.

"I've had as much as 100 hours of overtime in a two-week period," said Lewin, the battalion chief for the Miles City Fire and Rescue department. "Other people have had more."

Paramedics are often the most highl...

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