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A time to thank all our EMS folks

By Staff | May 21, 2017

You may or may not know it, but this is National EMS Week, celebrated all week long from May 21 to 27. There was a full page ad in last week’s Faribault County Register in support of our area EMS volunteers.

Emergency Medical Service is a name which usually covers both the Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) of ambulance crews, and the First Responders teams.

All have put in hours of training. And all of them are on call for long periods of time, ready to spring into action when paged out by the dispatchers located at the Faribault County Law Enforcement Center in Blue Earth.

And, they are paged out a lot. With a scanner in operation at the office of the Register, it has amazed me how many times it goes off during a week. Most of the time it is for an ambulance or for First Responders, because someone is in distress and needs help.

We are an aging community, and many of the calls have to do with an elderly man or woman.

One such page went out on the evening of Monday, May 8. It was a call to the home of Elton Rhoda in Elmore. As his wife, Sharon, tells it, people started arriving in just a couple of minutes after she dialed 911. First the Elmore Police officer, followed quickly by the Elmore First Responders and then the UHD Ambulance crew EMTs.

You can read this story of EMS volunteers in action on the front page of this week’s Faribault County Register, and I thank them and the Rhoda family for sharing it with me, so that I could then share it with all of you during National EMS Week.

UHD physician Dr. Aaron Johnson also sat in on some of the interview last Tuesday night, and he made no bones about it. “This man (Elton Rhoda) would not be sitting here tonight alive, if it wasn’t for these people (the EMS volunteers of Elmore First Responders and UHD Ambulance EMTs),” he said.

Dr. Johnson also pointed out something I have often thought of as well. We are very lucky that we have so many EMS personnel here in Faribault County.

I first noticed this when I did a story about it for one of our Community Focus magazines a few years ago. I found there were ambulance services in Blue Earth, Winnebago, Wells, Kiester, Bricelyn, Minnesota Lake and even in Frost. And First Responders in Elmore, Delavan, Easton and even the very small town of Walters.

That is truly amazing when you think about it. That is a whole lot of people who are volunteering their time to go out and help their neighbors when they need it the most.

This would not happen if one of the large medical service area providers, such as Mayo, was covering our area. I believe we would be down to just one or two Gold Cross ambulance services. But instead, we have some emergency medical personnel ready to help in virtually every town in the county.

Of course, each and every one of these groups will tell you that they really need more folks to join with them, as they all struggle to find enough volunteers to keep their service fully staffed.

So here is the plea. If you have ever given any thought to becoming an EMT or First Responder and want to find out more about it, just ask your local group and they would be more than happy to tell you what all is involved.

It could be one of the most rewarding things you could ever do.

The EMS folks last Tuesday night acted as though saving Elton Rhoda’s life, virtually bringing him back from the dead, was no big deal; they were just doing their job as they had been trained to do it.

But I could see their sense of pride and their smiles as they each took a turn giving Elton a hug. And there was a tear or two shed as well.

These EMS folks are truly the unsung heroes of our communities, here in Faribault County and across the country as well.

If you know anyone on these squads, this would be a fine week to tell them thanks for all they do.

One more thing.

It was almost fitting that near the end of the hour-long interview at UHD Hospital last Tuesday evening, the pagers on the two UHD ambulance EMTs, Brooke Krall and Mike Songstad, went off.

There was a motorcycle accident near Delavan. The two tore out of the room and seconds later the ambulance was seen leaving with sirens and lights going.

Always on duty, 24/7, 365 days a year.

We are, indeed, lucky to have so many folks willing to serve.

Thanks to all of you, from all of us.