WILLISTON, N.D. (KXNET) — First responders often wear many hats in their everyday duties.
For firefighters and paramedics in Williston, that is quite literally the case.
Williston Emergency Services is the only combination of the two departments in the state.
EMS and Fire Departments exist to protect and serve their communities.
Having an integrated emergency service brings a level of lifesaving abilities that are unique to the Williston community.
“We are the only combination department in the state of North Dakota. With that being said, Williston is the only fire department that does run ambulance as well,” said RJ Benth, the assistant chief for Williston Fire and EMS Administration.
Most of their personnel is dual trained in both EMS and Fire.
Staffing issues and the number of calls the department answers can be taxing on responders.
But the department created a program to train paramedics in their existing staff while still working on the fire side, and now, many will soon graduate.
Benth said, “By giving us more paramedics, with these students graduating, it’s going to give us more freedom to cross-staff more apparatus and give the EMS side a break because 82 to 85% of our calls are EMS.”
Members of the department say the partnership helps provide more advanced care and wider coverage to the area.
“If a trauma happens on scene, where they need more hands, we can work fluently together as a unit. Which we kind of start to know what they are thinking, we know what meds they’re going to give. We know how to do basic vitals. And then on top of it, our AMTs can start giving IVs so that takes the workload off the medic so they can do more advanced management,” said Wyatt Koenig, the captain of the Williston Fire and EMS Department.
Koenig says the camaraderie between the crews is what makes them so cohesive in the field.
“It’s nice to have a good crew that we can rely on being on the ambulance and in the engine, that we can work hand and hand together flawlessly,” said Koenig.
The department continues to strive, train, and prepare for all hazards in both Fire and EMS.
Next week, eight Williston firefighters will graduate with EMS certifications obtained while serving with the Fire Department.