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UNHS EMS ambulance service making difference and growing - Medically Speaking, Volume One, Number Eight, 3/13/14

UNHS EMS ambulance service making difference and growing

Residents in southern San Juan County have been pleasantly surprised by the great results and success of the new UNHS ambulance service.

Utah Navajo Health System, Inc. Emergency Medical Services started operating it's own ambulance service on December 10, 2013 with four ambulances. One ambulance is a 911 Advanced Life Support (ALS) ambulance in Montezuma Creek, one is an interfacility ALS ambulance for the Montezuma Creek and Monument Valley clinics, one is a 911 Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulance in Monument Valley and one is a reserve ambulance.

Since December 10, UNHS EMS has had 59 dispatched emergency calls with 41 medical calls and 10 trauma calls. The remaining 8 calls were runs not transported. Usually, the patient was assessed and treated on scene or decided to go to a medical facility by personal vehicle, when the emergency was minor.

Since the EMS ambulance operation began in the Monument Valley and Montezuma Creek areas, UNHS EMS has significantly decreased response time on inter-facility transport services for the UNHS clinics in Montezuma Creek and Monument Valley. UNHS EMS has received many compliments from community members and Navajo Tribal officials on the positive changes in emergency 911 responses in the areas UNHS EMS covers.

Navajo Nation EMS has been very supportive of the change, and willing to provide back up emergency aid, when any UNHS ambulance is on a run, and additional medical units are needed for other emergency calls. Kayenta EMS has played a very important role in helping EMS in the Monument Valley, Oljato and Halchita areas, when the UNHS Monument Valley ambulance is on call. Kayenta EMS has provided additional resources, during multiple patient calls and has met the UNHS ambulance when advance life support is needed.

"We have an EMT course in Monument Valley, currently, to help increase staffing and get community members involved," said UNHS EMS Director Dustin Coggeshell. "The purpose is to educate community members in pre-hospital emergency care, and help them learn the skills to give back to their community. The EMT course has received great interest from the community and surrounding areas, including residents in the Montezuma Creek and Aneth areas."

The current EMT course is a 120-hour course and will take about three months to complete. This course is held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and every other Saturday. It ends on Thursday, May 15. Normally an EMT takes a state approved course, such as the Monument Valley course, and other certifications such as emergency vehicle operations, CPR at a healthcare provider level and optional Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Emergency for Pre-Hospital Professionals, Pediatric Advance Life Support and International Trauma Life Support. The EMT is certified for four years to practice in Pre-hospital emergency services after passing state written and practical exams.

"It's great to see community members get involved in such an important service that impacts the lives of community members in such a rural area," Coggeshell added. "Our goal is to provide a great training experience and to educate our students so they feel comfortable and confident providing emergency care."

The EMT course instructor is long-time paramedic and resident of Montezuma Creek, Raymond Whaley. There is also some partnership with Mt. Nebo Training, of Provo, Utah. Coggeshell said Mt. Nebo Training provided the first two EMT courses in Montezuma Creek and Monument Valley a couple of years ago. He said UNHS EMS gained some great, well-trained EMT's from those courses. Mt. Nebo still provides some courses, such as the most recent International Trauma Life Support course for UNHS EMT's, to help further their knowledge in the latest EMS changes and updates.

"We are grateful to work with such a great EMS training service," Coggeshell said. "In all, it takes a great team to make this work for our communities. An EMS team consists of our volunteer paid EMT's, dispatchers, additional resources (surrounding EMS agencies, fire and police), hospital staff and our offline medical director. Without these agencies, and personnel, we would not be able to perform our job in making a difference in lives of our community members, who need us during emergencies. I think it is an honor to work with these professional staff members within our organization and other agencies."

Important Note: According to Coggeshell, residents served by the UNHS EMS can help reduce the response time to emergency calls if they know their physical addresses, such as county road numbers or post office-assigned addresses, and not use utility addresses. Using County road addresses, when calling for ambulance assistance, makes it easier for the ambulance to locate homes during a medical emergency response.

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