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The First Link In Medical Care

By Staff | May 15, 2012

At any given hour of the day or night, someone needs some type of medical assistance. For some people, that assistance may require the efforts of ordinary people, like your neighbors and friends, who will drop what they are doing on a moment’s notice to come to the aid of someone they may or may not even know.

The week of May 13-19 is National Emergency Medical Services Week, an observance designed to pay tribute to those people who provide the first step of medical care in times of emergency. An Emergency Medical Services provider can be your neighbor, your mother, father, brother, sister, a relative or a complete stranger but all are united by one common thread they are willing to give of themselves to provide medical assistance to anyone in a time of need.

Emergency Medical Technicians receive countless hours of training before they come to the aid of those in need. Hours of classroom instruction are followed by practical, hands-on training and testing to insure that each member of the EMS fraternity is qualified to provide the proper care in times of need. There are four different levels of training for members of the Emergency Medical Services.

First Responders are trained to provide initial assessment and techniques to needed to stabilize a patient while waiting for the arrival of the ambulance. Emergency Medical Technicians, or EMT’s, fall into three categories. The EMT-B (Basic) is trained in all phases of basic life support with more extensive training in patient assessment and stabilization including administration of certain medications. The EMT-I (Intermediate) is trained at the same level as the EMT-B but with added emphasis on airway management and intravenous therapy. The EMT-P/PS/CCP (Paramedics) are the highest levels of the pre-hospital care providing Advanced Life Support measures including advanced airway skill, electro therapy and medication administration.

Emergency Medical Services also include individuals who are Emergency Vehicle Operators/Drivers. These individuals are trained in emergency driving responses, tactics, techniques and maintenance. These crewmembers have the daunting task of insuring patients and crewmembers are safely transported often in less than ideal conditions.

EMS services in Palo Alto County consist of five ambulances and some 85 crewmembers. Those ambulance services are located in West Bend, Graettinger, Ruthven and Emmetsburg, along with First Responder Services in Mallard and Ayrshire.

West Bend Ambulance Service

The West Bend Ambulance Service has been providing emergency services to the community since 1972. A total of 17 crewmembers comprise the West Bend unit, including Don Banwart, Mary Banwart, Dean DeVore, Dan Fehr, Jim Feher, Callie Gerber, Dave Gerber and Jordan Knapp. Also serving on the West Bend unit are Denis Massner, Doug Meyer, Ron Powell, Wendell Schmidt, Angie Thilges, Marisa Thilges, Elisabeth Virkler, Philip Virkler and Darrell Zaugg.

Graettinger Ambulance Service

The Graettinger Ambulance Service was first established in May 1980. A crew of 15 personnel comprises the Graettinger unit, Jessica Behrends, Corey Boe, Jane Brown, Diane Brown, Jerimiah DePyper, Miranda DePyper, Stacy Ebel, Ted Foxhoven, Cheryl Harris, Jeanne Johnson, Chris McGrauth, Tabitha Murphy, Cody Petersen, Ruth Petrich and Pam Studer.

Ruthven Ambulance Service

The Ruthven Ambulance Service has been providing emergency services to their community since 1994. Ruthven’s Ambulance crew consists of seven individuals, including Jesse Radebaugh, Jacob Summerfield, Marci Simington, Tyler Simington, Dave Smith, Diana Wichman and Julie Williamson.

Emmetsburg Ambulance Service

The Palo Alto County Ambulance Service has two ambulances stationed at Palo Alto County Hospital in Emmetsburg. One ambulance is used as the primary emergency response vehicle and responds to all calls within the county. The second ambulance is used primarily for transporting patients to other hospitals as needed and serves as a back up in the event simultaneous emergency calls should occur. A total of 32 individuals comprise the Emmetsburg Ambulance unit. Members of the squad include Nick Adams, Karla Anderson, Keith Anderson, Holly Bell, Val Bormann, Brian Campbell, Candy Cribb, Sheryl Darling, Bill Dickey, Todd Ditch, Carol Dykstra, James Hanson, Tammy Hoyman, Jered Jacobson, Tom Jones, Johnathon Jordan and Amanda Lietz. Additional members of the Emmetsburg Ambulance Service include Joey Lybarger, Jason Kelly, Dave Loomis, Jeremy McClaren, Ben Morey, Jeff Morey, Seth Nelson, Tom Nostrom, Dennie Paulson, Bob Radvansky, Amy Rohwer, Jeremy Rohwer, Jennifer Savage, Justin Schultes and Missy Studer.

Ayrshire First Responders

The Ayrshire First Responders were established in 1986 and provide the initial response to medical emergencies in the community. When called to emergency situations, they stabilize the patient, take vitals, provide first aid and gather the patient’s medical history in preparation for the arrival of the ambulance. The Ayrshire First Responders are Cheri Bowman, Greg Terveer and Jeff Terveer.

Mallard First Responders

The Mallard First Responders were formed in 1996 under the guidance of the Palo Alto County Hospital with a response vehicle being added in 2000 to transport EMS equipment. The Mallard First Responders have 10 members, including Cathy Backstrom, Marty Bergstrom, Sue Haack, Kim Hutchison, Ron Hutchison, Jim Kacmarynski, Nancy Kacmarynski, Gene Olberding, Eugene Ruppert and Dan Stokes.

While all of these individuals are trained to treat the ill and injured throughout our county, they are still members of their respective communities. Crewmembers are actively involved in injury prevention initiatives such as car seat safety and bike rodeos. CPR and First Aide classes are routinely offered to members of the public as well as civic organizations. Personnel also provide medical oversight at community gatherings such as sporting events. Crews also train with Law Enforcement and Fire Departments to strengthen the emergency response team.

The citizens and visitors to Palo Alto County are most fortunate to be served by these individuals who put the public’s well-being ahead of their own lives, through their service in times of emergency, as well as the hours of training and education. Their devotion to their craft is like no other, and deserves the public’s deepest appreciation and gratitude. Anyone interested in joining the ranks of Emergency Medical Services or wanting more information on EMS in Palo Alto County is encouraged to contact Sheryl Darling, EMS Coordinator, at 712-852-5464.