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“Anytime. Anywhere. We Will Be There.”

By Staff | May 19, 2011

Think about this for a moment. You walk into a room and flip the light switch and the lights come on. You don’t give it a second thought until you flip the switch and the room stays dark.

It’s sort of the same scenario when you consider the fact that there are people, just like you and me, who stand ready at a moment’s notice to come to your aid when you need medical assistance.

The week of May 8-14 is National Emergency Medical Services Week, the 39th annual observance and tribute to your neighbors, friends, and, quite possibly even your own family members, who will drop what they are doing to come to your aid when a medical emergency arises. No matter when the call for help comes in 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in any weather, EMS providers live up to the theme of EMS Week – “Anytime. Anywhere. We Will Be There.”

In Iowa, there are over 13,000 certified Emergency Medical Service providers who stand ready to provide those in need with life-saving care and assistance whenever need be. With around 900 authorized EMS services in the state, access to emergency medical care in Iowa is some of the best in the nation. According to statistics from the Iowa Department of Public Health, EMS providers in Iowa responded to over 240,000 calls for assistance last year alone.

In Palo Alto County, the five ambulances operating out of Emmetsburg, West Bend, Graettinger and Ruthven, along with First Responder units from Mallard, Ayrshire and Cylinder, responded to 1,143 calls in 2010 alone, providing care to a total of 885 patients in the course of those calls.

“We cover the 564 square miles of Palo Alto County, and we extend service into the neighboring counties as well,” noted Sheryl Darling, Paramedic Specialist and Director of Emergency Medical Services for Palo Alto County Health Systems. “Our EMS personnel work hand-in-hand with the law enforcement officers and the firefighters in the county to make this system work as well as it does.”

However, the EMS crews aren’t limited to providing medical care in emergencies. EMS crews can also be found providing standby medical coverage for sporting events and other community events. And then, there are opportunities for outreach and community service.

“My crews are also out there teaching,” Darling noted. “They’ve conducted over 500 CPR classes in the past year and they’re conducting three or four such classes this week alone.”

The educational efforts don’t stop there.

EMS crewmembers also conduct educational opportunities for Injury prevention, Child Seat Clinics, Babysitting Clinics and even a “Teddy Bear Clinic”, designed to show young children how emergency medical care helps people. “These people just give so much of themselves to help others,” Darling said proudly. “They truly are a wonderful group.

That group of dedicated neighbors and friends totals 80 people who have all chosen to make sacrifices in order to serve their fellow man in times of need.

“These are all tremendously dedicated people,” Darling says with conviction. “Even with a full-time paramedic staff here at the hospital, without the true volunteers, the part-time people out in each of these towns in the county, the police officers, the sheriff’s deputies, state troopers and other officers and the firefighters, all working together, this system simply wouldn’t work. We couldn’t make any of this happen without these people giving of themselves like they do. Thank You just isn’t enough but it comes from the heart.”

Anyone wanting more information on Emergency Medical Services can contact Sheryl Darling at the Palo Alto County Hospital, 712-852-5500. If you are interested in becoming a member of the EMS system, contact Darling or any member of the EMS services in Palo Alto County. For more information on Emergency Medical Technician classes that will start in August, contact Steve Dobbins at Iowa Lakes Community College at 1-800-242-5108.