The Roundup -

The Life Of A Volunteer


Richland County EMS volunteers held training sessions on March 27 at Sidney Health Center. Starting bottom left with the camo hat, Nate Herbel, Lee Roy Schmierer, Lyndsey Sorteberg, Ashley Harris and sitting with pitchfork in his leg is Andy Carda.

First of all, thank you for supporting our area EMS volunteers. The role the volunteers fill in our communities would not be possible without you.

You may have an Emergency Medical Service (EMS) volunteer working for you, working with you, who is a family member, or living near you. We understand that their role as an EMS volunteer can be an inconvenience to their co-workers, family and neighbors. Our EMS volunteers rely on their respective co-workers, family and neighbors to cover their responsibilities when they respond to a call.

On the other hand, have you ever asked what becoming an EMS volunteer involves and what exactly the job entails?

To start, EMS is a system designed to deliver pre-hospital care and is an acronym for Emergency Medical System. The Emergency Medical System is part of the Department of Transportation and starts at the level of the Federal Government. The D.O.T. has created certain guidelines and rules, and individual states have created laws to further define the purpose of EMS in each state. These rules and guidelines are reviewed on a regular cycle to keep patient care up to date with technology and science.

In the State of Montana, Emergency Care Providers are considered licensed health care professionals and must meet training and care standards to maintain their license.

In the rural communities the EMS system is made up mostly of volunteer personnel who respond to your homes, businesses, streets, and highways to provide pre-hospital patient care. There are several different levels of care providers.

The generic term of Emergency Care Provider or ECP has replaced the term EMT and now describes Paramedics, EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) and EMRs (Emergency Medical Responders). Each level of provider has a specific set of skills and care directives, however, only EMTs and Paramedics may transport a patient.

An EMS volunteer is a person of many hats. Besides being a father or a mother, a coworker, and a friend, the volunteer responds to a special set of tones that come across that radio or pager on their hip.

The Call for Help.

In that moment they quietly stop what they are doing and make their way to the hospital or fire station to respond to the call. They become a first responder.

EMTs are an essential part of the healthcare system and vital to patient care. The chances of a patient survival in a medical emergency situation increases in direct correlation to the speed with which care is administered. Richland County is fortunate to have ambulance services spread throughout the county with ambulances located in Fairview, Lambert, Savage and two in Sidney, and to have more than fifty dedicated volunteers from all four communities. More trained EMTs in a community results in faster response times in emergency situations.

Who becomes an Emergency Medical Technician?

People who choose this life are compassionate, hard-working, dedicated, and dynamic individuals who enjoy problem solving and providing medical care to members of their community.

To become an EMT one must commit to approximately 150 hours of initial training through a local course put on by the service, and another 20 to 100 hours of continuing education per year depending on the individual and the service. The first lessons and skills an EMT learns are how to care for themselves, the Emergency Medical System, vehicle operations, and how to communicate. Then EMTs learn how to assess a person, how to recognize illness and injury, how to treat illness and injury in a pre-hospital setting, and how to continue that care during the transport to the hospital. EMTs are also trained to safely work around hazardous situations. During this training, the people who volunteer are slowly transformed into the calm EMS personnel you see during emergencies.

The average service life of an EMT is 5 years due to age and changing life styles, which means rural services are always looking for individuals to volunteer.

Have you ever thought about becoming an EMT? If you have, check the Sidney Health website and Facebook page for information on upcoming job fair


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