The Roundup -

McKenzie County Ambulance Service Meets Important Community Need


Back row (L-R) Rustin Kaczmar, Tana Hendericksen, Ed Elkins, Jim Johnsrud, Karson Knudtson, Dwite Brew and Jon Rasmussen. Front row (L-R) Leroy Defoe, Kathy Klang, Jan Riely, Vonnie Johnsrud, Larry Schaff. Not pictured are Paul Duetsch, Kevin Harris, Lance Madsen, Nathan Stoker, Keith Tschetter, Joshua Trevena, Oscar Knudtson, Miah-Joy Kay, Susie Lundin, Greg Nicholson, Luke Olmstad, Malissa Schroeder, Alicia Madsen, Joy Haut, Troy Haut, Dustin Newman, Teri Nicholson, Lynette Forbes, Sarah Wold, Patty Aipperspach, Dennis Anderson, Josh Butler, Krys Kaczmar, Kerry Krikava, Jon Romans and Jane Ann Samuelson.

The McKenzie County Ambulance Service has remained strong through the oil boom, despite a 328% increase in the number of calls.

At the height of the oil boom, in 2014, the Service responded to about 1200 calls total. For comparison, ten years ago, the Service responded to 280 calls per year. This year, they have responded to about 70 calls per month, on track to reach about 840 calls in 2018, according to Jim Johnsrud, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Squad Leader for the McKenzie County Ambulance Service.

The Service responds to all trauma and other medical calls in Watford City and parts of the surrounding areas in McKenzie County. The ambulance crew includes emergency responders with various levels of training. There are currently ten ambulance drivers, some of which are trained as Emergency Medical Responders, who are trained to administer basic care and patient support. The Service has 18 total Emergency Medical Technicians, or EMTs, four of which have more advanced EMT training. There are also 8 licensed paramedics on the crew who are able to deliver advanced life support to patients, among other emergency care. Under McKenzie County Ambulance Service, the Arnegard and Keene Fire Departments have Quick Reponse Units that arrive at a scene to deliver stabilizing aid until the closest ambulance arrives to transport the patients.

Despite the influx and exodus of people in the Watford City area in the past decade, the Ambulance Service hasn't experienced a deficit in staffing. "We have pretty good retention," said Johnsrud. Several members have been in the service for several years. Jim and his wife, Vonnie, have been part of the Ambulance Service for over 22 years. Both EMTs and EMRs, as well as paramedics, are required to log a certain number of training hours monthly, so the Ambulance Service holds in-house trainings, and supports staff in attending conferences.

One challenge facing the McKenzie County Ambulance Service is securing funding to provide advanced life support to the community and workforce. Only about 51% of services provided are paid by the consumer, Johnsrud explained. The Ambulance Service is seeking to create a tax district to provide sustainable funding for service. They plan to ask for 2-3 mils, in the June 12th primary to balance the budget.


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