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Countdown to EMS Week - Meet Blackduck's ambulance service personnel

Blackduck Ambulance manager and paramedic Molly Rucinski.1 / 3
Blackduck Paramedic Brent Sorensen.2 / 3
Blackduck EMT Brian Wasek.3 / 3

Part One

Saving lives is what they do. Their compassion is well known but seldom recognized. They care for those who are involved in all types of medical emergencies. They are friends, family members, business owners and neighbors who save lives on a daily basis.

When accidents and illnesses strike unexpectedly, Emergency Medical Services personnel are the first on the scene, and their timely actions often make the difference between life and death.

First Responders are a group of volunteers who are trained to care for those involved in crashes and medical emergencies and are often first on the scene and advise the ambulance of what further response is needed. This is especially critical for those who have only a few minutes to live and need that instant availability of medical intervention. For those in rural areas this is crucial.

These volunteers respond, often in the middle of the night 24 hours a day, seven days a week to those in need, paged out, per established protocols, by the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office of Emergency 911 Communications Center, whenever a situation arises where medical attention is needed.

There are 24 First Responders who make up these squads - Kelliher, Waskish and Quiring/Saum/North Blackduck. Northome also has a squad.

There are currently 14 paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians on the Blackduck Ambulance Service. Some of which are also First Responders.

Over the next few weeks, the public will get to meet the people through a series of articles which will culminate with EMS?Week being observed May 20-26.

Molly Rucinski

Rucinski is the manager of the Blackduck Ambulance Service and a full time paramedic. She has had nine years with the EMS service, three of those years as a paramedic. Before that, she worked as a seasonal wild land firefighter for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

She graduated from Bemidji High School and worked at various jobs around Bemidji before she received EMT certification in March of 2003. She volunteered at the Blackduck Ambulance from October of 2004 until staff became paid. She went full time five 5 years ago; received Certification of Paramedic in May 2009 and hired as manager of the ambulance service in October of 2010.

"I enjoy working with the community; being a comfort to/caring for patients; working closely with my 'family'," said Rucinski.

Her current plans are to stay in the area and keep doing what she loves to do -?helping those in need.

Rucinski is engaged to MN?DNR Conservation Officer Brice Vollbrecht and they live in Tenstrike. The couple have three "Lab kids"?as she calls them - Bina, 7; Sunny, 5 and Lil Molly, 5.

When not working, she enjoys spending time outdoors, walking, cooking, reading, crafts, sewing, quilting, motorcycling when the weather is nice. She has also been a member of the Bemidji Jaycees since September 2003, was president in 2007 and has held several board positions and chaired/co-chaired projects like the Home, Sport and Travel Show, Water Carnival and the Brrmidji Polar Plunge.

Brent Sorensen

Sorensen hails from the Solway area and is a full time paramedic with the Blackduck Ambulance Service.

He has been a paramedic for the past 10 years. Before that he was a First Responder for two years and an EMT for four years. He is also currently employed with Bemidji Ambulance and was a member of the Leech Lake Ambulance.

"I enjoy the fact that no call is ever the same," said Sorensen. "That's what I enjoy about this job. The part I?don't enjoy is washing the bugs off the rigs."

Sorensen began as a firefighter and is still on the Solway Fire Dept. He is also certified in Paramedicine.

He is a divorced father of two children, Sydney, 13 and Wyatt, 11.

When not on call, he enjoys motorcycling, camping and hobby farming.

Brian Wanek

Bemidji native Brian Wanek was a member of the Northwest Squad First Responders for four years before he became an EMT. He has been with the Blackduck service for three of those years as a part time EMT-Basic and ambulance driver. He also works for the American Red Cross in Bemidji.

Wanek comes from a medical background, having served for 16 years in the US?Army and National Guard as a medic.

"I enjoy the patient care and the 911 calls," Wanek said. "I?don't enjoy treating family members and friends, though."

His future plans are to become a paramedic. He enjoys hunting and archery.

Wanek and his girlfriend, Leah, have an 18 month old Golden Retriever, Wilbur.