May 31, 2012 at 8:09 a.m.
Two local emergency medical services staff members have received the American Ambulance Association’s EMS Star Award. Ben Wasmund and Jon England serve as paramedics with Lakes Region, and oversee special programs within the organization. They got to celebrate a little with colleagues and invited guests at a cookout and open house, at the Lakes Region EMS main site in North Branch. National EMS Week was May 21-25. Wasmund is a director of operations for Lakes Region and England is a field training officer. Wasmund has been with Lakes Region for 10 years and England started in August 2001.
According to Lakes Region EMS supervisor John Fox, the organization is blessed to have staff like these two award winners who work to enhance services in Chisago County over the years. Fox said the community gets more and more involved every year in Lakes Region’s overall mission by way of educational courses and Explorers, and outreach programs like mock crash simulations at schools. The Chisago County Board passed a resolution unanimously recognizing EMS services locally. Board Chair George McMahon stated emergency medical services are a vital public service...members of emergency medical services teams engage in thousands of hours of specialized training and continuing education to enhance lifesaving skills.” The County Board encourages all communities to value the contributions of EMS personnel, and not just during EMS Week. It was announced earlier that Congressman Chip Cravaack would attend the North Branch open house but he had a prior engagement. Cong. Cravaack attended the Maritime Day luncheon, sponsored by the Duluth-Superior Propeller Club, where he was keynote speaker. About the organization Some of the recent advancements in Lakes Region programming include educational opportunities include, a critical care medic II course.
The ambulance program achieved a capability of transport care that provides people with an option to costly helicopter services, Fox explained. In 2011 Lakes Region also introduced Critical Care EMT class which will be repeated in 2012, along with the introduction of an ambulance simulation lab. Also in 2011 Lakes Region was able to do a trial of Lucas devices. This equipment is meant to free-up the hands of the on-scene providers and make sure CPR is performed (compressions per minute) at a pace that studies show must be maintained for the best outcomes. These devices were available to Lakes Region in the Lucas trial for just 150 days.
A goal is to acquire this equipment. As a non-profit, non-taxpayer funded entity the Lakes Region EMS organization is always juggling finances and must prioritize capital purchases. Fox explained that historically public sector payment is based on when somebody is transported. But, hundreds of calls don’t result in a transport. And, there are costs for the rig, the manpower and the fuel to respond. The organization is always working with healthcare funders and government to address these issues. “Uncompensated care” totaled $3.4 million in 2011. Patients on Medicare comprise about one-quarter of Lakes Region EMS business, but Medicare reimbursements fall short of costs. This is an on-going discussion with federal leaders. FYI.... ~ In the last five years calls for service per year have gone from 2,767 in 2007 to 3,106 last year.
~ The fewest ambulance runs happen on Wednesdays. ~ The timeframe when the ambulance is least busy is between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. ~ Lakes Region went in with St. Croix Regional Medical Center in 2011 to assume ownership of St. Croix Valley EMS. The service had been owned and operated as part of LifeLink III since 2003. Its service territory includes St. Croix Falls, Dresser, Osceola, and the immediate area. Lakes Region got the management contract and 16 paramedics and EMTs were added to Lakes Region staff. ~ Lakes Region EMS Board of Directors Chair is Jonathan Dodge. Directors include: Dr. Peter Overgaard; Mike Carroll, of Rush City; Kathy Blomquist, North Branch; Keith Carlson, Lindstrom; Steve Mork, North Branch and Gene Olson, Lent Township.
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