Local fire department first responders say there is a looming shortage of emergency medical personnel in rural Minnesota. To combat this future crisis, West Central Area Secondary School, Prairie Ridge Hospital and Health Services, and the Community Health Care Auxiliary have teamed up to provide training and certification for Emergency Medical Responders (EMR). WCA Ag Instructor Ben Johnson, a DOT certified instructor, is taking 11 WCA juniors and seniors through an intensive 18 week program in which they learn CPR, splinting, trauma and emergency first aid procedures. At the end of the 18 weeks, the students will be EMR certified responders ready to go along when local fire departments respond to accidents, or other medical emergencies.
The Community Health Care Auxiliary donated $7,500 for equipment for the class, and the Prairie Ridge Ambulance Service donated supplies such as splints, gauze, and bandages.
“This class is one semester, and I am hoping to turn out at least 10 certified EMRs every semester that can join their local first responders,” said Johnson. “Next year, I would like to offer this to sophomores and juniors with seniors taking EMT training.”
While EMRs offer basic emergency medical first aid and care, and EMT is trained for more intensive care. EMT is a national certification, allowing them to work in any state.
Johnson said EMRs can make a big difference in an emergency. For instance, many public buildings in Grant County have portable emergency defibrillator machines. These are simple defibrillators with easy access so in the event of a heart attack, anyone can follow the printed instructions, administer a shock to the heart, and save a life.
“We are finding, however, that older people are intimidated by the machines and younger people have always been told ‘do not touch,’” Johnson said. “The students who are EMR certified are training in using these machines and will act quickly to save a life.”