Ambulance service overcomes obstacles to provide emergency care in rural area


Bowman County relies on a small ambulance service to provide emergency medical care to one of the largest service areas in North Dakota . . . and it isn’t easy.
Bowman Ambulance EMS coordinator, Emily Halleen, said working in a rural area can be tough sometimes.

“You might be in the middle of a birthday party or family supper  and your pager goes off ,and you go. Your kids and family are left waiting, hopefully you can be back that night to be part of the family. It gets tough,” said Halleen

The ambulance service works with a limited budget that only allows them to have two paid employees.

“Many rural areas don’t have enough call volume to pay full wages 24/7, so we have a day staff , and we rely on a crew to come in on nights and weekends,” said Halleen

To get some valuable rest and relaxation, Halleen and her partner, Jason Anderson, rely on EMS volunteers, but unfortunately they don’t grow on trees in rural areas.

“We live in such a rural area. How many paramedics do we have laying around? There are not very many,” said Halleen.

Bowman Ambulance receives about 300 calls a year, but the distance and conditions they deal with to provide care can be challenging.

“We go about 35 miles north, about 20 miles South, 15 miles East, 25-30 miles West. Its a very large service area. Most of those roads are not paved,” said Halleen

” We may have to drive down a section line or  . . .  cow trail to find a patient. We are talking really, really rural stuff here,” said Jason Anderson, Bowman Ambulance EMT.

Rural EMS providers also have to spend longer periods of time on average with their patients compared to ambulance services in the cities.

“Some of these bigger service areas they might spend 5-10 minutes with a patient. You get to spend 30-40 minutes with a patient, and the need for a higher quality of care,” said Halleen.

The Bowman Ambulance Service is responsible for more than 1,500 square miles, and they said the best thing the public can do to help them out is volunteer for training opportunities that they offer, so certain patients can be cared for before the ambulance arrives.

“The public is a big benefit when it comes to training. We offer CPR classes, first aid classes . . . ” said Anderson.

The ambulance service is also providing online classes, hoping it will attract more volunteers.

“They can meet remotely for their book training, and then meet once a month for their skills training,” said Halleen

Bowman Ambulance currently has 20 volunteers and four supplemental paramedics who help with providing emergency medical service to the community.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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