Middlebourne EMS Building on a Legacy
Many changes have occurred in the department of Middlebourne EMS (MEMS) over the last seven months. Since the passing of the late Katy Wells, who held the position of Head Paramedic and Chief of Operations for over 20 years, the MEMS desired to build on the dream Wells had of a more professional, stronger, and a more effective EMS department. It was that vision combined with the desire to raise the standard of care for the citizens of Tyler County – which mirrors that of bigger departments – that fueled MEMS to take the necessary steps to ensure this dream would become a reality.
EMT and new Chief of Operations Patricia Keller, who received hands-on-training as Assistant Chief for approximately a year-and-a-half with Wells, stated that the department has worked hard and have come a long way. With a determination for growth and proficiency, MEMS now has four paramedics, six EMTS, seven drivers, four members who are certified to teach CPR and First Aid, and a certified C3IFT Stop the Bleed Instructor. Between the four medics – Vicki Forrester, Rose Keller, Shawna Miller, and Tim Stanley – the department now has surpassed state and national requirements for paramedic status and training. Said training includes that of PALS (Pediatric Advance Life Support), PHTLS (Pre-hospital Trauma Life Support), ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support), CCT (Critical Care Transport), and ITLS (International Trauma Life Support.) Furthermore, three of the active members of MEMS participated in the Emergency Services Conference, training, and continuing education in Pipestem Resort State Park earlier this year. Keller reported that it is the goal of MEMS to offer high quality emergency medical services to the community; she stated that it starts with highly trained emergency medical personnel.
In addition to high marks of accreditation, MEMS has sought after and acquired grants that have allowed the ambulance squad to purchase medical equipment that most small stations are not able to obtain. In the last two years, they have received the Stealey Green Grant and was also able to purchase two state-of-the-art LUCAS Chest Compression Systems. These devices allow in-the-field personnel to mechanically deliver high-quality and consistent chest compressions with consistent depth and rate of compressions to sudden cardiac arrest patients. Chief of Operations Keller, specified they are also in the process of applying for other grants for future purchases that will increase even more the standard of care for Tyler County residents.
The combination of increased training and obtaining top-of-the-line equipment for the county was the heartbeat of Katy Wells. It is now the heartbeat of the pre-hospital medical personnel that regularly responds to the emergency calls of the public.
Another way in which MEMS is serving the community where they work and live, is that they have and will continue to be a part of the events that take place in the county. Some of the recent events and activities that the squad participated in was the Kindergarten Field Trip at the Middlebourne Fire Hall; a Wellness Day at the Tyler Consolidated Middle School; the Farm Safety Day at the Tyler Fair Grounds with the the county’s fifth graders; Relay for Life at Boreman Elementary; the Memorial Day Parade; and teaching first aid and CPR to the county cub scouts.
Some of the plans the ambulance squad has in relation to continued community involvement include future monthly blood pressure clinics and holding CPR and first aid classes for local residents. These future events will be announced to the public at the time of implementation.
Other changes that have taken place within the MEMS over the last seven months include a newly organized board and board of directors. At the conclusion of the elections, the new President of the MEMS Board is Brian Taylor and the Vice-President is Nancy Mercer. Peggy George was elected as the Board Secretary; Wes Stewart as the Treasurer; and as reported above, Patricia Keller was elected as the new Chief of Operations.
One of the first acts of the MEMS Board of Directors was to review, update, and revise the board by-laws. The last time these ordinances had been amended was in 1982. At the completion of the by-law revision, it will be scheduled for an in-house reading and a voting for approval.
In other news regarding the ambulance station, several residents have made inquires as to how the levy money is spent and what became of the donations that were appointed towards the Katy Wells Memorial Fund. In answer to those queries, the acquisition of medical equipment and a new ambulance was among the levy purchases. This new ambulance – a 2019 Chevy K3500 4×4 Diesel Frontline – accommodates a cot-lift apparatus for the protection of the medical personnel and for the patients. This truck will become “bus” number 484 and will replace truck number 482 that has been in service for many years. Ambulance number 482 will be moved to the Alma district.
As a side note, to celebrate with the public of the purchasing of Ambulance 484, it has been reported that the MEMS will be having an open house/ribbon cutting for Middlebourne and Alma residents later this summer. This occasion will be marked with a barbecue and all the fixings, a blood pressure clinic and a glucose check. Dates and times will be announced in advance and everyone will be invited.
In addition to the funding descriptions, a small portion of the levy money was also used towards the refurbishing of the squad room. Because it was Katy Well’s dream to update the 1980’s style station house, this small allocation of levy funds combined with the memorial donations made it possible for the purchasing of new furniture, tables, and new flooring.
A smart television was also purchased to be used to hold training classes and will be housed in the Middlebourne Fire Hall. This updated environment now operates as the “home-away-from-home” for the highly dedicated employees of the MEMS.
Other questions have been asked in relation to the Alma station. Alma is considered a substation of Middlebourne and both stations operate full time and is considered on-call 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week, and 365 days-a-year. Both stations are manned with paramedics, EMTS, and drivers to care for the needs of the residents in their given areas.
To give an example of the amount of calls the EMS station responds to, it was reported from the Tyler County 911 Center in the month of May that 24 ALS (Advanced Life Support: medic calls), 22 BLS (Basic Life Support: EMT calls), 7 BLS transfers, and over 20 calls in relation to staging for fire department calls/ or non-transport calls took place. That is a total of over 73 calls the EMS responded to in just one month.
Because Middlebourne and Alma ambulance services are considered part volunteer and part paid, these emergency personnel only get paid per run, meaning when an actual transport to a hospital takes place. If there is no transport to the hospital, no one gets paid.
That is how one can tell these EMS workers love what they do. Every MEMS worker wears a pager on their hip basically all day every day. Regardless if they are mowing the grass, grocery shopping, in the pool with their children, or celebrating a holiday with family, they are always ready to drop everything and race away to answer the call – the call of a Tyler County resident in need. The pager rests on their bedside table at night while they sleep, while their clothes are a few feet away, just waiting and ready for a quick retrieval in the middle of the night if necessary. These emergency personnel also work hard to keep up with continuing education classes and everything the state requires for maintaining accreditations.
When asked why they do what they do, it was reported that the love of the community and the desire to help others is the driving force behind their actions. It is in their DNA to respond to emergencies; and as one medic replied, “It is not only our dutyit truly is our pleasure.”