EMS Week and Appreciation BBQ on May 26 at 5:30 pm


Emergency Medical Services (EMS) are a relatively recent phenomenon. That’s according to Kelby Eck, Director of Emergency Services at CCMH.

“EMS only been around for about 50 years as a concept and in 1974, Gerald Ford, President at the time, authorized EMS to have their own celebratory week. He commissioned all EMS services across the nation to have a week designated for them where local citizens can celebrate the dedication and commitment that EMS providers have to their community.”

Cori Rayevich, CCMH EMS Coordinator, says EMS is really an extension of the kinds of care that people would normally expect they would receive in an emergency room and, in many instances, within a hospital.

“There was a little bit of stabilization on scene back in 1974. But as soon as you got the patient in the ambulance, or what looked like a hearse, you simply got the patient to the nearest hospital as quickly as you could. It's incredible the amount of changes that have been made in the EMS world, the amount of stabilization care. You can provide about any medication that would be used in a rescue situation or in a life or death situation in the back of an ambulance as you're going down the highway as opposed to what it used to be.”

Eck noted that CCMH would like to grow their EMS services beyond the emergency designation.

“A community paramedicine, or mobile integrated health, program involves a team that does in-home visits for high-risk individuals. Perhaps, patients recently discharged from a hospital stay. People who were recently in the emergency department and diagnosed with something that you know is fairly critical or could turn critical quickly. The concept of a community paramedicine program is to go out in the community and service individuals in their home, or in their place of work, or wherever we need to meet them to make sure that they are on track with the plan of care. And to make sure the patient has all the resources that they need to continue to improve their health and stay away from those critical incidents. CCMH is hoping to get that program implemented soon, but I think that's a pretty exciting development.”

Rayevich pointed out education and training, required to become a certified EMT or paramedic, have continued to increase over the years.

“For our first responders, they are required 48 hours of class time. That also includes skills time. EMTs are required to have 150 hours. Advanced EMTs need 200 hours of classroom and skills time. Paramedics are anywhere from nine months to sometimes a year or two. That doesn't count all the continuing education hours that you have to take every two years to keep your license up to date. I think most people in the general public would be amazed by the amount of education that EMTs and  first responders have to have in order to be able to be certified.”

Recently, news stories have focused on the lack of EMS volunteers and even paid staff in departments across the entire country. Eck says EMS needs more interested people in rural areas.

“Community resources are going to be a big part of it. If you're on the fence about joining a volunteer service or even joining the paid service at CCMH, don't be afraid to reach out and ask for a ride along. See what it's all about before you dive in, headfirst and get yourself really involved in it.”

Rayevich echoed that theme. “I can tell you a majority of the volunteer services are looking for more members. There's scholarships, there's grants out there. CCMH is working with Western Iowa Tech, as well as Iowa Western, to try to set up classes and get more people involved. We do have several community EMS services struggling a little bit but they're still able to keep their services going. If you're interested, please contact a volunteer member of a service, or one of the paid members at CCMH, or call us at 712-265-2500.”

CCMH is hosting an EMS Week celebratory barbecue in the parking lot near the ambulance garage on Friday, May 26 beginning at 5 30 p.m. Hot dogs, hamburgers, chips and refreshment are served free of charge to anyone who wants to come and celebrate EMS Week.

Eck encourages those attending to take time to recognize both volunteer and paid staff.

“Give an EMT or paramedic a pat on the back, especially the volunteer services. Just shake a hand and tell our EMS staff from around Crawford County ‘thank you for all the service you provide.’ The education hours they put in. The volunteer time they put in to make sure the emergency vehicles are in good condition and ready to go for that next call because you never know when that next call might be you. And it would give people an opportunity to see the ambulances and the technology we employ.”