20 volunteers help assist in medical emergencies
As of last Saturday, there are 20 more trained volunteers capable of helping assist or solo in medical emergencies in Douglas County and beyond.
After completing a grueling nine-week emergency medical training course, the volunteers will now be able to help county paramedics administer first aid and emergency medical treatment.
“We do these training sessions once a year,” said Ron Santos, Douglas County Paramedic, and one of the class’s coordinators. “We started with 32 students and ended up with 20.”
The classes were offered twice a week and every other Saturday. Students were allowed only a few absences.
Ron Johnson, another coordinator and paramedic, said the intense schedule causes some people to drop the class, and added that testing during the nine weeks often eliminates other students.
The 20 pupils who completed the class participated in a 128-hour intensive training course, which began Sept. 8 and was completed last Saturday. Participants were also required to experience 12 hours of emergency room time and eight hours of “ride along” ambulance time.
One of the students who took the course, John McKean, said the class was difficult.
“It was very concentrated, very intense and demanding,” he said. “They really pounded the information into us.”
McKean, along with most of the other students, is a volunteer firefighter with his neighborhood fire department in Fish Springs.
Becoming a basic emergency medical technician, which is the title that course graduates earned, gives him a better way to give back to the community, he said.
“The whole idea of volunteerism, of being able to help in some way, is something you can’t do in a place like Los Angeles, where we came from,” he said. “Plus, we learned so much in this course, and we got it for free.”
He said that although the training was thorough and the ambulance and emergency room time exposed the students to real life emergency medical situations, he knows it will still be nerve-wracking to go on actual emergency calls.
“Now, when we go out on calls, although we may be nervous, especially when dealing in a life or death situations, we’re so much better trained,” he said. “We’ll know what to do, which really helps a lot.”
Another student, Meschelle Stocker, who is a volunteer firefighter, performed her 12 hours in the emergency room on Halloween.
“When my partner, Mia Fernandez, and I went to the emergency room, we probably saw 75 patients,” she said. “We saw victims of car accidents, domestic abuse, kids, babies with pneumonia, a man with Alzheimer’s who was combative and said, ‘Make the ladies in blue go away.'”
Stocker, who lives at Topaz Lake, said the class prepares volunteers to go out on calls alone. She had already passed the first responder course, and added that this training was demanding.
“I was up late until 2 or 3 a.m. every night,” she said. “Our book was at least 900 pages and we had to read three to four chapters at a time. Working full time, it was hard.”
She, too, feels the time spent as a volunteer is well worth it.
“A couple of years ago, my grampa died and I remember feeling so helpless, so inadequate trying to help him,” she said. “For me, it’s a little something I can do to pay back the community, and you never know when it might come in handy.”
The Class of 1997, all of whom passed Saturday’s difficult final exam and practicum, includes Rod Baldwin, Vicki Baldwin, Jason Biggs, Mark Baughn, Diane Cooling, Silvia Doan, Mia Fernandez, Terry Ferrara, Tawnya M. Lang, Scott Marchand, John McKean, Eric Miller, Dave Pulver, Scott Rasmussen, Roxanne Schade, Grady Shock, Dani Slobe, Doug Smith, Meschelle Stocker and Ken Trankle.
Class instructors are paramedics and emergency medical technicians of the East Fork Fire and Paramedic District, including Santos, Johnson, Jeff Costa (also a coordinator), Bobby Wartgow, Bob Barrett, Robert Lekumberry, Dave Norvell, Ron Haskins, Walt Kesteloot, Bill Romanowitz, Andrew Pennucci, Nick Agorastos, Dave Bourne, Ralph Jones, Allen Anderson, Craig Brooks, Steve Lyons, Ronna Hubbard and Bryan Bunn. Physician Mark Brune and obstetric nurse Judy Alerson also provided instruction.
Santos, who has been a paramedic for more than five years, said the EMT course must include state and federal requirements.
Passing the class puts its graduates at the first of three levels.
“The first level is basic emergency medical technician, the second level is Intermediate EMT and the final level is EMT paramedic,” he said. “Being a volunteer is very demanding, but that’s what is so neat about it.”
He said all the paramedics began with this basic EMT course.
“We’ve been in their shoes,” he said. “They did a great job.”