Blackduck Ambulance Association Inc. has announced the advancement to paramedic of three of its current emergency medical staff.
Bob Cribb, Annie Peterson and Molly Rucinski underwent a year and a half of paramedic education and experience to complete the requirements.
"We decided to further our education to become paramedics so we could better serve the Blackduck and surrounding areas," Rucinski said. "In the past, it was a devastating feeling knowing there was something that could be done to treat a patient, but we didn't have the education to do it."
The group began its education through Emergency Training Associates ETA, a division of St. Scholastica of Duluth, in January 2008. Students were responsible for their own tuition, books, testing costs and travel expenses. Blackduck Ambulance donated the location to hold the classes. Students attended classes every other weekend for 20 hours each weekend and had an average of 700 hours of clinical experience in Fergus Falls, Blackduck and Bemidji.
"It used to take us 20-30 minutes just to get out of the ambulance garage, and oxygen was pretty much all we had to offer patients," said Annie Peterson, who has been with Blackduck Ambulance for 16 years. "Now we can provide ALS and we have full- and part-time employees at the garage at all times. At almost every run, we have a paramedic available."
The nearest hospital for the service is North Country Regional Hospital in Bemidji.
"We now have paramedics on staff that are able to recognize and treat life-threatening situations," said Brent Sorenson, paramedic manager at Blackduck Ambulance. "For example, if you can't interpret an EKG strip, there could be serious complications. Now, our paramedics can treat it before they get to the hospital, since sometimes we have 70 miles to the nearest hospital."
"We now offer a higher level of service for saving lives," Cribb said.
Blackduck Ambulance is a nonprofit organization with six paramedics and 10 emergency medical technicians. It is also a licensed training center for first aid and CPR. Serving 1,300 square miles with a population of more than 18,000, Blackduck Ambulance serves parts of Beltrami, Itasca and Koochiching counties.