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Emergency Medical Services Week has local significance

Volunteers pretended to be wounded passengers in a vehicle that was under a downed power line. The “accident” in Midland tested the training and readiness of the volunteer ambulance and fire crews.

In an area of South Dakota known for its farming/ranching industry and known for being a long way from most anywhere, people depend on the training of first-responders.

May 15-21 has been declared National Emergency Medical Services Week to bring the field of ambulance crews and other first responders to the public’s attention. The Philip Ambulance Crew has been recognized as one of the best. Midland just completed a month’s long class to train EMT-basics. The talents, the drive, and the sharing attitude of such volunteers is to be noted, especially during this week.

Philip has two paramedics, four EMT-intermediates, and 20 EMT-basics on its volunteer list. After years of saving and planning, the crew has purchased a new ambulance unit. There was no trouble in selling the old unit to an area that is trying to expand its own emergency services.

Midland recently had eight people, again volunteers, complete an EMT-basics training course. Most had to drive great distances, one doing a 110 mile round trip, for each class session. The class cost $100 per person, $20 for the test, and many hard hours of learning life-saving information. These people have been asked to join the current ten-person ambulance crew in Midland.

The many people who helped teach the varied classes are not resting after the class. One example is Lola Roseth. Roseth has been working to get medical equipment to be stored at country school houses; not just bandages, but things like defibulators. Roseth spent half a day at a country school teaching first aid to the students. She is qualified to teach CPR to people who themselves teach CPR to others.

First responders may refer to an individual rather than a full crew. Some areas in this part of the state are over an hour from the nearest ambulance. A trained person called to a rural emergency because they are the closest help, may be the difference between a highly stressful medical situation and a visit by the coroner.

A few weeks ago, a mock car accident was staged in Midland. First responders were called to a vehicle which had been hit by a downed pole. The volunteer “victims” were found in the vehicle. Sorry to say, one “victim” was dead at the scene (and lived to tell about it). All emergency and medical procedures were observed and later analyzed for improvement, including the determination of scene safety.

Scene safety has changed in only one aspect over the years. Making sure that a first responder does not end up as another victim may sometimes be common sense. Law enforcement officers, and sometimes the EMTs themselves, must determine that weapons are no longer a threat, downed power lines no long have electricity surging through them, explosive materials such as spilled gasoline are not a further danger. But, the modern threat of AIDS, hepatitis, and other transferable conditions requires people to wear gloves in almost every situation.

The week is to create heightened awareness concerning EMTs, firefighters, law enforcement officials, and other emergency responders. In some areas kids may be given coloring books about the topic. In some areas classes might be given on CPR or other medical aspects. Tours of ambulance halls and fire halls are very popular (especially kids turning on the siren). Everything leads to two things ... be aware and be a volunteer.