News Article about the Ervin family that started Appanoose County Ambulance Service

in Miscellaneous

Published in the Daily Iowegian by

Emergency medical services has come a long way since one local family was the only owner and operator of an ambulance service in Appanoose County.

Following the Daily Iowegian's week-long salute to EMS, Max Ervin, 68, of Centerville, came forward to explain how his family helped to bring emergency medical and ambulance service to Appanoose County.

Ervin said his younger brother, Bob Ervin, perhaps the first EMS-trained person in the county, started Appanoose County Ambulance Service in 1978. Bob would sell the service to Paul Ervin, his father, in 1981, in order to go to Des Moines to start an ambulance service there.

So in 1981, Paul, who is now deceased, and his son Max, trained as an emergency medical technician-ambulance, were the only emergency medical service-trained option in a 600 square mile area that covered Appanoose, Wayne, Davis and Monroe counties in Iowa and Putnam County in Missouri.

The vehicle of choice for Ervin was Cadillac.

"I could go from Centerville Hospital to Des Moines General in an hour," Ervin said. "I went from Centerville Hospital to the University of Iowa in one hour and thirty-eight minutes."

Ervin said time was the critical factor. Accident victims and others in need of emergency medical treatment needed to get to the hospital as soon as possible if they were going to survive, he said.

"And at that time, it was load and go," he said. "You just pick them up and throw them in the ambulance and run for the hospital and hope that you get there in time."

Ervin said in 1983 there was a need to train, with his help, first responder units that would operate out of the fire stations in Moulton, Moravia and Cincinnati. The reasoning, he said, was because fire departments receive emergency calls, they would be on the scene and able to save lives.

In 1983, Mystic formed their own first responder unit, Ervin said.

"Responders in the local areas could get to the people, stabilize them," he said. "In other words, what they call, 'Package them ready for transport' before I got there."

Ervin said first responder units helped to save many lives.

"The key to emergency medicine in Appanoose County is what it done for the county," Ervin said. "And I can tell you right now, there were seven documented saves the first year that people would have died had we not had the first responders."

In 1984, an EMS Council was formed to oversee and help improve the county-wide EMS system. It was based at the Law Center and had input from the chief of police, sheriff, a doctor from the hospital and two members from each responder unit.

"The first thing that the council was able to do, that I personally could not do, was get the money to buy the jaws of life," he said. "And they raised $10,000 in less than six months to buy the jaws of life."

In 1985 Ervin quit Appanoose County Ambulance Service to start Rathbun Area E.M.S. ambulance service, which was licensed to operate in Centerville.

Ervin said he quit his father's ambulance service because he wanted to force advanced medical care into the county.

In 1988, the hospital took over ambulance service in the county, Max said. And by 1988, people living in Appanoose County knew what EMS meant.

"EMS itself has evolved so much over the past 20 years, or 30 years, that it's had to imagine," Ervin said. "It was a struggle to get people to realize the necessity of emergency medicine."

Simple Beginnings For EMS In Appanoose County: In this photo dated March 13, 1985, instructors Max Ervin, right, and Bruce Mauraides demonstrated during a First Responders class in Moravia how to move a victim who has suffered neck or spinal injuries. Judy Cox posed as the patient. Ambulance attendant Jim Young is standing in the background. - Submitted photoDaily Iowegian

Simple Beginnings For EMS In Appanoose County: Max Ervin - Daily Iowegian

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