Langdon Volunteer Ambulance Squad in desperate need

The Langdon Volunteer Ambulance Squad is in desperate need of and searching for community members willing to become part of the EMT squad.

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Posted on 6/11/16

By Melissa Anderson

Currently, the squad has only 10 EMTs, down from the over 20 that were part of the team just 10 years ago.

“The community should be aware of the EMT shortage because lack of EMTs could lead to the closure of the ambulance,” Lindsey Gellner, Trauma Coordinator at Cavalier County Memorial Hospital, said.“If the ambulance were to close, members of the community could be waiting for a neighboring ambulance for 30 minutes to an hour or more.”

Currently the squad has 10 EMTs, four drivers and two flextime paramedics. While there is no set number of volunteers needed to make a better rotation as it would all depend on their availability, the current number of volunteers is not sustainable and threatens to burn out those who are volunteering.

“I feel it’s very easy to get burnt out in this profession. If there are more members on the squad, the shifts can be divided out to more,” RoxAnne Hoffarth, an EMT with the squad, said.

Gellner explained that the shortage of EMTs is not just a local problem, it’s a problem statewide for ambulances who run primarily on volunteers.

“There are a number of ambulances throughout the state that have recently closed due to lack of volunteers, and there are many who are on the brink of closure due to lack of volunteers,” Gellner said.

The Langdon Ambulance may soon face that very difficult decision if more people do not come forward to join the ambulance squad.

“Community members should want to join the ambulance squad to help others and give back to the community,” Gellner stated.

Those interested in becoming an EMT should know that they must be 18 by the time they take the test. It should be noted that those interested do not need to be 18 years of age in order to take the course.

“You can be 16 or 17 but then it involves taking the test twice- once when you finish the class and once when you turn 18,” Gellner explained.

The course itself is around 140 hours and usually starts in the fall and ends in the spring.

After taking the course and passing both the written and practical tests, the newly made EMT must apply for a position on the ambulance squad and pass the background check and other necessary items.

“The best candidates to join the squad are people that are available during a variety of times- days, nights, weekends. The cost of the class would depend on where it’s held,” Gellner said.

Last year it was decided that the class would be done through Pembina County EMS education in Cavalier.

“I believe the cost was $700 but was closer to $900 after testing fees and other expenses,” Gellner said.

There is a grant that can be applied for by anybody who joins the squad and gives a 1 year commitment. Then the full cost of the class would be reimbursed to them.

After becoming certified, EMTs must renew their license every two years by obtaining 40 hours continued education, all of which can be obtained locally if part of the local squad attends the trainings offered here.

“The ambulance is a very important asset to the community,” Gellner said.

“This is truly a commitment but also a very self-satisfying position. We have a very committed and fun group of people now and would really like to have new members come and truly help others as we do,” Hoffarth added.

If you are interested in becoming an EMT, please contact Cavalier County Memorial Hospital at 701-256-6100.

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