It’s National EMS week. Emergency Medical Services are essential in our county. and we are grateful! 

“We see people at some of the darkest or hardest times in their life and even though some don’t go the way we would like, others do and it is rewarding, knowing you were able to help them get through it,” said EMT David Stimatze.

Brandee English PA-C, explained how the EMS team goes beyond their duty. As a critical access hospital, most of the time, a critical patient is stabilized and shipped to a larger facility as soon as possible 

English said, “Alan and the EMS team have stayed many extra hours in the ER and have been at our right hand, intubating, assisting in CPR, placing IOs and IVs, being extra hands, supporting families, and much more during codes and trauma.”

“Transferred patients up to five or six hours away, working wrecks that take multiple hours, all while some of them still have to go to their full-time jobs the next day,” said English. 

So the Hamilton County Emergency Medical Service maintains a three vehicle fleet and recently added a 2020 Ford F 550 diesel ambulance, replacing the 1991 ambulance. “It was state of the art in it’s day,” said Hanson.  

Hanson explained the reason for maintaining three ambulances is the need for a backup in case one breaks down, and they must wait for parts, an out of town patient transport and if a call comes in within the county..  

Currently the EMT’s are David and Shelia Stimatze, Sarah Ochs, Debbie Hanson, Susanna Banuelos, Garett Shamburg, Rick Dikeman, Tregg Thomeczek, Raul Leyva and RN’s Dana Shamburg and Jonna Upson.

Dr Stephenson praised the EMT’s “I cannot emphasize enough how important our EMS is to our community’s well being. They are the critical infrastructure needed to get those in need to definitive care.  They constantly put the well being of patients above their own while performing a physically and emotionally difficult service. The number of lives that they are directly responsible for saving is immense and they should absolutely be recognized for it.” . 

Hanson feels fortunate to have volunteers because they are there for the heart.  “Pay has nothing to do with it.”  He explains that first responders are people who get the call to go someplace that people are running out of which may include firefighters, police officers deputy sheriffs, highway patrols, firefighters, but to take it farther, lineman, gas workers, wreckers, highway departments, city workers, and even road grader operators who are called to clear a path for first responders,

Garett Shamburg feels his years of serving the public in EMS is his way of being part of the community, making a contribution.

Sarah Ochs enjoys helping people and being available during emergencies, and “When the pager goes off, your heart races and you never know exactly what you will find at the scene.” 

While visiting with Hanson, he was finishing cleaning equipment and explained this past week has been an unusually trying one with the number of situations within a short time. ATV accident on Thursday, two transported, one was flown out, rollover accident then another accident Saturday evening at the sand park about 10:30 pm, they then assisted in the ER until flight team showed up, and got home at 3:00 am. To make their jobs easier the new ambulance is equipped for ease of access to items they most often need. Most compartments are accessible from the inside as well. They recently purchased a cardiac monitor with COVID funds, making both ambulances the same, equipment wise, “One of the goals since I have been here,” said Hanson. 

The ambulance is a crawl through, so they installed radios to communicate back and forth. A nice feature about the radio is in case they have a family member in the passenger seat, sometimes they need to communicate about the patient, without the family hearing, which can help keep the family calm in an extreme emergency situation. 

There is also a rear-view camera so the driver can view what is going on in the back. The patient area is more comfortable with the standard air ride suspension. “We don’t have to zig zag around the dips taking patients to the airport for transfer. 

Hanson feels they work more efficiently with the extra storage, allowing items to be color coded, and they have room to organize their supplies. It came equipped with electronic oxygen, so there is no reaching through cabinet trying to turn the bottle on. It also monitors the oxygen level and alerts you when it is getting low. 

The back of the vehicle is highly reflective, making it easily seen in emergency situations. Another recognizable outward sign on an ambulance is the “Star of Life” symbol. The symbol is a serpent and staff which portrays the staff of Asclepius, an ancient Greek physician deified as the god of medicine. Each bar on the “Star of Life” represents one of six EMS functions which include, detection, reporting, response, on-scene care, care in transit, and transfer to definitive care.

Overall, the staff represents medicine and healing, with the skin-shedding serpent being indicative of renewal.

In closing Hanson explains by being a first responder, they typically see the worse of the worst and in a small community, that can include family and friends involved in accidents, some of which are fatal. But as is mentioned in the comments from some of the EMT’s, they do it because they care and want to give back to the community. 

 English would like to see a lot more younger adults be on the EMS team and in addition to those interested in medical field. “Please talk to Alan, Sarah, or Sheila and become part of Hamilton County’s first responders!” said English.  







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