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Blackduck Ambulance Service staff members advance their skills

The Blackduck Ambulance Association Incorporated announces the advancement to Paramedic of three of their current emergency medical staff. Bob Cribb, Annie Peterson and Molly Rucinski underwent 1½ years 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," said Rucinski. "In the past, it was a devistating 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 their education through Emergency Training Associates, a division of St. Scholastica of Duluth, in January of 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 an average of 700 hours of clinical experience in Fergus Falls, Blackduck and Bemidji.

Paramedics with the Blackduck Ambulance Service are, from left to right: Annie Peterson, Molly Rucinski and Bob Cribb.

Annie Peterson, who has been with the Blackduck Ambulance for 16 years noted, "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. Now we can provide ALS and we have full and part time employees at the garage at all times. On almost every run, we have a paramedic available," said Peterson.

The nearest hospital for the service is the North Country Regional Hospital in Bemidji.

Brent Sorenson, paramedic manager at Blackduck Ambulance says, "We now have paramedics on staff that are able to recognize and treat life-threatening situations. 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."

Blackduck Ambulance is a non-profit organization which includes six paramedics and 10 emergency medical technicians. Blackduck Ambulance is also a licensed training center for first aide and CPR.

The organization participates in community events such as the Backwoods Bash, Kelliher Days, parades and they are supporters of Blackduck Youth Baseball. Serving 1,300 square miles with a population of over 18,000, the Blackduck Ambulance serves parts of Beltrami, Itasca and Koochiching counties. Blackduck Ambulance has many calls to the retirement communities.

"We now offer a higher level of service for saving lives," said Cribb.