August 10, 2022 at 2:49 p.m.
Ambulance service seeks EMT candidates
The Sauk Centre Ambulance Service crew were already responding to a call Aug. 3 when another call came in. The SCAS shoots for crews of three when responding, but they only had one Emergency Medical Technician back at the ambulance garage, so one of the three caught a ride back to the garage with a police officer to join the other EMT and respond to the second call. It turned out to be a nonthreatening medical alarm, but while they were still filing their report, they got a third call.
Busy, complicated days like these are part of the reason why the SCAS is looking for new EMT candidates within the Sauk Centre community or the nearby area. Medical experience is not required; the service will pay for the training of the new EMTs.
“I hate to say (candidates) have to live in town because we do have a sleeping space for people who live out of town,” said Kathy Struffert, SCAS director. “But, we also need those people who are in town, who are available, so when the main crew is paged out, they can check on for backup and be available for the second or third rig.”
The SCAS has had to manage an increased call volume over the years. They made 551 runs in 2011; five years later, the 2016 run total was 760, and 2021 had 933 runs, the highest number in the past 15 years. The 21 SCAS staff have been able to manage this load, but their life circumstances are hardly static.
“We go through so many different lifestyle changes,” Struffert said. “Month after month, the EMTs are available for so many shifts, and then something changes in their life; they get promoted in their full-time job and are working different hours, and also they’re not available as much.”
The SCAS is in particular need of EMTs who have the availability and flexibility to be on call and on backup during daytime hours, holidays and weekends; business owners and employees with the ability to leave when needed are especially welcome. While it is considered a volunteer position, EMTs are compensated for on-call time, standby hours, run hours and monthly meetings, and there is also a retirement benefit.
Tim Duvall has been an EMT on the SCAS for about four years. He has enjoyed his time on the crew, and while there is that excitement with every call, he has seen how most runs are for someone who is sick or having trouble breathing. While Sauk Centre is at the crossroads of several major highways, serious car accidents are not a major call source.
“If you’re someone who just likes adrenaline and you think you’re going to see blood and guts all the time, you’re going to be severely disappointed,” Duvall said. “If you like helping your community and people in general and want to give back, this would be a good place to start. It’s a lot more hands-on, more personal.”
Anyone interested in EMT training is encouraged to stop by Sauk Centre City Hall at 320 Oak Street South to fill out an application, due by 4:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 29. All the applicant needs to have is a high school diploma or equivalent thereof, as well as a valid Minnesota driver’s license.
“You don’t have to be the peak of physical fitness by any means, but you have to be able to move, walk, reach, bend and lift,” Duvall said.
People with nursing assistant certification or any type of prior medical experience are a plus, but the experience is not a necessity.
Training for selected candidates will be held at the SCAS garage at 1300 Timberlane Drive in Sauk Centre. Classes will be held from 6-10 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday nights, starting Sept. 19 and continuing through mid-December. There will also be a couple of Saturday classes from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., and candidates will also be required to do ambulance ride-alongs during training.
EMT training will include basic and more advanced first aid, breathing, anatomy, terminology and some medications.
“It’s pretty much a nationwide course standard,” Duvall said.
EMT candidates will not necessarily be learning how to drive an ambulance.
“We take turns driving, so we don’t specifically hire drivers,” Struffert said. “When we go up to the scene of a crash or any medical, if there are firemen there and we need all the EMTs in the back, we’ll ask the firemen to drive. We’ve had police officers who’ll drive in for us if we need to.”
Further questions about the job and the training process can be directed to Struffert at 320-249-8204 or at [email protected]. For anyone who is unsure if they want to be an EMT but intrigued by the idea, the SCAS is willing to hold a ride-along to give a little more of an inside look into the literally lifesaving profession.
“I would encourage anybody who’s interested to look into it and at least take the training or the class,” Duvall said. “If you find you don’t like it, then at least you’ve had that training, and that’s something you can use in your personal life or at work. It’s not like it’s going to be a waste of money.”