Even though EMS Week was observed last week, it was acknowledged as an honor to all the First Responders, EMTs and Paramedics in the field as well as others in the EMS field, such as the Emergency Management Director and 911 Supervisor.
Beryl Wernberg of Bemidji is the 911 Supervisor/Emergency Management Director for Beltrami County. She supervises the 911 Dispatch Center and she also works as a dispatcher.
Wernberg is responsible for all communication devices that ring, ding, make noise to include consoles, portables, mobiles, cell phones, air cards, pagers and repeaters as well as the various software programs we have in dispatch such as Computer Aided Dispatch.
She works with GIS on the mapping software and monthly updates, paging software, etc., supervises and with with such volunteer groups as the Mounted Posse, Team ELF (Enable Law Enforcement functionality), Paul Bunyan Amateur Radio Club, North Country First Responders (volunteer member and treasurer) and Community Guard. She also is the liaison to the Lakes Area Dive Team and Civil Air Patrol. Chair of the Beltrami County Emergency Operations Team which includes all ambulance, fire and other emergency services.
Wernberg works with Public Health and a number of other groups to develop, maintain and exercise emergency plans and is a member of the SWAT team.
She has worked in this profession, Communications Officer, for the past 38 years, starting with the Bemidji Police Department April 1, 1972. She was transferred by the city to Beltrami County in 1987. She was officially promoted (although she assisted with emergency services from 1997 on) in 2001 to the Emergency Management Director and 911 Supervisor.
Wernberg began working at the age of 12, in a museum in Morton in Renville County. She spent two summers as a waitress in Yellowstone National Park, worked as a nanny for a summer near Minneapolis, at a resort near Brainerd otherwise in or near Bemidji and she owned her own business as a canvas shop operated out of her shop at home for a number of years.
The parts of the job she enjoys most is "being granted the honor of assisting and finding help for our citizens and being their lifeline," she said. "This is my passion and working side-by-side with my team of dispatchers and our volunteers as well as all of emergency services. We learn new things every day!"
The part of her job she likes the least is the overwhelming sadness that accompanies many of the calls and the way it wears away on one's soul.
Originally from southern Minnesota, born and raised on a farm near Morton. She came to Bemidji to attend Bemidji State University in 1968; she graduated and stayed.
"Among other grand adventures in life, I was a night shift supervisor to include driving the wrecker for a convenience store, drove grain truck, and other various jobs to support attending college," she said.
Her husband, Myron, is currently retired and she enjoys spending time with their daughter, stepdaughter, two grandkids and the critters, a 36 year old horse, a year old goose, and a Great Pyrenees and two cats on five acres.
When asked about any future plans, Wernberg feels that education is always a plus.
"More classes on gardening and would like to eventually work in a veterinarian's office," she said.
She is a Master Gardener, loves to work outside with power tools, go deer hunting and four wheeling.
Walter Lindahl lived in Bemidji and works for the Blackduck Ambulance Service as a casual EMT, working with the paramedics and assisting with 911 calls and transports.
"I have been an EMT for six months," he said. "I have been a First Responder for about a year and a half and would be considered a EMT Basic.
For the last five years, he has worked at the MN DNR full time.
"I am also currently a volunteer firefighter at the Bemidji Fire Department where I am a member of the the ice and water rescue team," he said. "I am also a wild land firefighter and do wild land firefighting for the DNR on the weekends".
The part of the job he enjoys the most is being able to help someone in their time of need.
"Having the ability to help someone during a crisis and help them during their time of need is an awesome feeling," he said.
"The toughest part of this job is for me is working on kids. I have two daughters and it makes it difficult when you have to see another kid that is suffering or hurt," he said.
Even though Lindahl completed his EMT training, his main employment background is in the construction field and project management. He has been in the construction field for over 25 years and eight years ago, he switched into an office/professional setting.
He also holds a property appraisal license and has done property appraisals for over five years.
Lindahl and his wife, Amy, have two daughters, Heather and Abbey.
He would like to eventually become paramedic certified.
"I want to gain more experience as an EMT before I advance my EMS training," he said. "I really love the medical field and would like to pursue my RN degree and work in an emergency room or trauma center."
He likes to dark house fish in the winter, play golf, ride his motorcycle, vacationing to warm destinations in the winter, is an avid deer hunter, loves boating with the family in the summer and spending time with his family.
Carol Skoe of Northome, has been a First Responder for about 12 years and EMT for five years.
She has only worked for Blackduck Ambulance, generally on Sundays during the day and picks up extra hours in the summer. She also help out on transfers.
The parts of the job she enjoys are the fact that each call brings a new learning experience and the satisfaction of helping out individuals in a time of crisis.
She said her least favorite part of the job is when the days can get long when there are no calls.
She was the Director of the DAC in Northome for 32 years and for the past 10 years has worked for BRIC special education coop, services students with physical disabilities.
She and her husband, Wayne, have two sons, Paul, who is married to Beth. They have one daughter, Leah. Other son, Erik, lives in Northome and works Ingram Barge Co. in Kentucky.
When not working for the ambulance service, she enjoys walking her dog, refinishing furniture, doing yard work, spending time with granddaughter and going on vacation.
There are currently 14 paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians on the Blackduck Ambulance Service. Some of which are also First Responders.