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Sturgis EMS look to change South Dakota retirement

Published: Nov. 15, 2021 at 6:29 PM CST
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STURGIS, S.D. (KOTA) -“We are trying to get it recognized that we are just important as everyone else,” said Shawn Fischer, Ambulance Director for Sturgis.

She’s worked for Emergency Medical Services, or EMS, since 1993, and now she’s ready to see a change.

“We’re trying to get EMS recognized across the state, and mainly Sturgis is doing it right now, as Class B retirement,” said Fischer.

Class B retirement covers professions such as law enforcement, firefighters, and judicial, but leaves no room for EMS. Leaving some like Fischer to believe the importance of the profession is pushed aside.

“Our EMS is just as important as all of those. EMS needs to be recognized. We served the community 24/7 responding probably to 2,000 calls this year within the Sturgis community. We’re there day-night no matter what,” said Fischer.

Not part of Class B retirement, EMS receive 2% less in retirement and are expected to work 10 to 15 years longer than other first responders.

“I don’t understand how. Our job is just as strenuous,” said Fischer.

She went to South Dakota Retirement to question why EMS isn’t considered public safety.

“They gave us 6 reasons why we were not included,” she said and added one of the reasons is that public safety preserves life and limb, something Fischer believes EMS does daily.

“In the field, we are a respiratory therapist, we’re under our medical director but were making decisions out there. We’re drawing blood as a lab tech, we’re doing nursing duties along with everything else we’re expected to do, but yet we’re not recognized for that,” said Fischer

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