GAYS MILLS - Ocooch Mountain Rescue Squad is the emergency first responder and ambulance service that serves the Gays Mills area. They will hold their annual Mother’s Day Pancake Breakfast on Sunday, May 13, 7-11 a.m. at their headquarters building at 111 Royal Avenue in Gays Mills (just north of Gays Mills off Highway 131).
The menu for the breakfast will include pancakes, possibly waffles, sausage, scrambled eggs, real maple syrup, butter, coffee, milk and juice. The panacke mix was donated by The Marketplace; the sausage by No Bull Party Place of Seneca; the real maple syrup was donated by local syrup makers Rick Salmon and one other, and also by Aldis; Thrivent Financial has also donated to the effort. Cost of the breakfast will be a free will donation.
Rescue Squad member Larry McCarn said “we get a good bit of our funding from this pancake breakfast event.” The squad is an all volunteer roster, that gets paid nothing for any services they provide.
“Funding our services has become harder with the new Medicaid law which only pays $300,” Rescue Squad president Becky Salmon explained. “More and more, we see people without health insurance, and our monthly payment on our ambulance is $4,000.” Salmon explained that the Squad also has to pay to replace supplies that go out of date. “We’ve all heard about the cost of Epipens, and we also have to stock Narcan now to respond in a drug overdose situation.”
Currently, the Ocooch Mountain Rescue Squad has an active roster of 10 individuals, with a mix of first responders and several registered EMTs.
“Gathering a crew with enough people, especially during the work week, can be challenging due to work schedules,” Salmon said. “We are actively seeking new volunteers, and will pay for individuals to take training at the cost of $1,000. It’s a great way to gain a valuable life skill, and to give back to your community.”
Those interested in learning more about becoming a first responder or EMT or with other questions can contact Becky Salmon, President of Ocooch Mountain Rescue at 624-5484.
Ocooch Mountain also offers a unique service, with a Rugged Terrain Extrication Vehicle (RTEV) that can allow faster and more efficient response in the area’s heavily wooded hunting areas, bluffs and farmlands.
At times, the unique vehicle is deployed beyond the Squad’s basic service area as well, making it an asset beyond the Gays Mills area. The group was able to purchase the vehicle with a $30,000 grant from the George Family Foundation in September of 2015.
“The ATV comes in handy when we need to perform a rescue operation in rougher terrain where the average vehicle can’t go,” McCarn explained. “We’ve been using it quite a bit lately to respond to grassfire situations.”
According to Ken Bartz, Southwest Tech EMS Instructor/Coordinator, the two most common classes they offer for people looking to get into EMS are the Emergency Medical Responder (EMR or First Responder) and the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). The EMR course is 70 hours and is offered every spring and fall one night per week throughout the Southwest Tech district based on local needs. The EMT course is 180 hours, and is also offered every spring and fall, two nights per week, but on a set rotating schedule. In the spring the course is offered in Richland Center and Platteville with the fall courses offered in the Fennimore/Lancaster area and Mineral Point.
EMRs learn CPR, basic patient assessment and interventions similar to a first aid course but more in-depth. EMRs by law cannot transport so any community that has a first responder service must also partner with an ambulance service to transport patients.
The goal of an EMR is to be the first person on scene to begin to assess the situation and provide lifesaving/sustaining interventions until the ambulance arrives to transport the patient to the hospital or intercept with a paramedic service or air medical.
EMTs learn assessment and emergency interventions like the EMR but they spend more time understanding the human body to be able to accurately track how that patient is doing. EMTs are allowed to do more skills and interventions and thus, need to know more about how the body works to accurately and completely assess the patient and chose the right intervention. The biggest difference between EMR and EMT, is that EMTs run on an ambulance and can transport patients.
In Wisconsin all providers that receive initial training at any EMS level must complete and pass a written and practical test administered by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) to be certified by the NREMT.
Once they are certified, the State of Wisconsin will issue the appropriate licensure level. That certification is not only good in Wisconsin but many other states will recognize NREMT certification and issue a state license as well.
By law, EMR must have 18 hours of continuing education every two years with EMTs required to have 30. I will note that a law has recently been signed changing the requirements.
Once a person is a licensed EMT, they are eligible to take a higher level of initial training. The higher levels are Advanced EMT, EMT Intermediate, or Paramedic. Those new training requirements range in length from 170 hours to more than 1,000 hours.