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

EMT Vicki Yerbich1 / 4
EMT Bill Caddy2 / 4
EMT Curt Peterson3 / 4
Paramedic Byron Willard4 / 4

Part Three

Even though EMS Week will be observed May 20-26 as an honor to all the First Responders, EMTs and Paramedics in the field, this series will continue on into the month of June.

Three of these next four members of the Blackduck Ambulance live in Bemidji but volunteer their time and skills to those in need in the area.

Vicki Yerbich

Yerbich has been with the Blackduck Ambulance Service for the past 15 years. She does basic medical transports and is an ambulance driver.

Yerbich has been in the medical field for years, currently she is an LPN with Havenwood Care Center in Bemidji and said that there is nothing about her job with the ambulance service that she doesn't like.

One of the best parts of her job

"I like being a part of the community and a part of this family at the ambulance service," she said. She added that she also enjoys working with the community.

Being an LPN for the past 20 years has given Yerbich a look at both sides of the coin - first on the scene and as a care giver in a medical facility.

She has been at Havenwood for 11 years and before that, she was a Northern Pines Good Samaritan Center. She also did a stint at Blackduck MeritCare Clinic for three years and was in the dementia unit at Havenwood for 10 years.

Her future plans are to become an RN.

She and her of 31½ years, Vince, have three daughters and has two granddaughters.

In her spare time, she enjoys sewing, gardening, crocheting and spending time with her family.

Bill Caddy

For the past 7½ years, Caddy has been a member of the ambulance service in Blackduck. Not only is he an EMT, he is also a member of the Northwest First Responders.

"My job is to respond to emergency calls and provide efficient and immediate care to the critically ill and injured," he said. "We also transport the patient to a medical facility."

One of the best parts of his job, Caddy said, was meeting new people and never doing the same thing twice. "Every day can be different," he said.

The worst part of his job is the fact that "meeting those new people is usually on the worst day of their lives," he said.

Caddy has worked as an EMT at the Palace Casino for 8 years and also at the casino as a sub-shift security guard.

He has an AAS degree from Northwest Technical College in Bemidji in microcomputer support and network administration.

Caddy has also been on over-the-road truck driver and done technical support for an ISP.

His future plans are to finish up his BA at Bemidji State University when he can and possibly get his Paramedic certification.

Caddy is the father of three boys and takes care of his father, full time. When he has the time, however, he is an avid photographer, loves playing with computers, reading and hiking in the woods.

He is currently the president of the North Country First Responders and serves on the Board of Directors for Greater Northwest EMS.

Curt Peterson

Having spent 18 years in radio, Peterson looked for a change. Not only has he worked for Potlatch/Ainsworth for the past 10 years, he is also EMT certified. He has spent the past 6 years with the Blackduck Ambulance. He also works at Sanford Medical Center in Bemidji.

"The excitement and the ability to help people" is the part of the job Peterson likes the best. The worst part "Sometimes the days can get a little long when there are no calls."

He has no plans to retire in the near future. He and his wife, Tonie, have two children and two grandchildren.

When not working, Peterson enjoys doing yard work, gardening, genealogy, photography and home brewing.

Byron Willard

Willard had been with Blackduck Ambulance as a Paramedic for the past four years. He works for the Bemidji Ambulance Service full time and was an EMT with the Walker Ambulance service for two years.

Willard enjoys helping people in need and getting to know new people. Another aspect of his job is that "no two days are ever the same," he said.

He is currently going to school for his RN degree and hopes to eventually become a nurse anesthetist.

His pet peeve with the service "People who abuse the system," he said. "Using the ambulance service for a taxi." Just as troubling to Willard is to see the children they have to transport who are hurt or dying.

Willard and his wife have a combined family of seven children and in his spare time, he enjoys going for a motorcycle ride, spending time with his kids and coaching fourth and fifth grade girls softball.

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