SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — This week is National EMS week and the goal is to celebrate EMS practitioners and their life-saving work.
One important part of the care they provide is the partnership between local and rural EMS.
Each day is a new challenge for EMS workers nationwide.
For flight paramedic Eric Rupe, the day starts with prep work making sure a helicopter is ready to go with the supplies needed to tackle whatever crisis comes his way.
“We’re able to monitor all of the same things that they would in an ICU or an ER in this aircraft,” Eric Rupe said.
Rupe says a day doesn’t go by that the flight team isn’t needed, and weather permitting the helicopter is frequently on the go.
“You never know what you’re going to get into for the day. Emergencies aren’t planned so we just try to make sure we’re prepped for everything and then we kind of just help out around the hospital, help out in the ER, until something happens where we’re called out,” Rupe said.
And when that call happens, rural and local EMS teams are there to help.
“Those EMS personnel, they prepare our patient for transport, they take us from the airport to the hospital, they’re very critical for our role and I just don’t think we’d be able to survive without them,” Rupe said.
State EMS Association President and flight paramedic Eric Van Dusen says 85 percent of South Dakota’s EMS teams are made up of volunteers.
“If the volunteer services weren’t currently there, when you call 911 in a smaller community there would be no one there to come help you, with the exception of maybe the fire department or maybe law enforcement and they don’t have all the equipment to maintain good patient health care,” Van Dusen said.
This partnership is crucial in communities where medical services are limited, and Van Dusen says it significantly improves outcomes.
“If we didn’t have those capabilities within our state we would unfortunately lose a lot of people and we want to decrease that,” Van Dusen said.
Which is why both he and Rupe hope people interested in the field will take the time to learn more.
“Nobody ever stops to think the ambulance needs help, or the fire service needs help because they’re the ones you call when you need help, and sometimes they’re the ones in need of support,” Van Dusen said.
“There’s a lot of need in every community. If you’re looking to get involved in a meaningful way EMS services are definitely out there for you,” Rupe said.
If you’d like to learn more about EMS in South Dakota, click here.