BEATRICE – They serve their fellow citizens in life or death situations….and they’re critical to communities…..emergency medical technicians and paramedics.
This is National EMS Week, which started back in 1974, authorized by then President Gerald Ford… effort to recognize the important work EMS personnel do in their communities.

Beatrice Fire and Rescue has several EMT’s, Advanced EMT’s and Paramedics in its 24-member fire and rescue service.  Chief Brian Daake says it takes special qualities to do the job….handling situations where lives are saved….but sometimes having to deal with adverse health outcomes…..something that takes resiliency.

"To be able to deal with it at the time, but then how not to bottle it up and just eat it, afterward. The 24-hour shift, I believe helps with that, because when the guys do come back from a bad call...they're still here, finishing off their shift....they can talk about things."

Beatrice Fire and Rescue established a model for heart patient care that is now the standard protocol for units across Nebraska.  The training to reach paramedic level is intense….and it now takes two years to complete.

"It used to be about a year-long course. It's evolved quite a bit. We use to have ride time and clinicals. But now it's turned the end of the paramedic program, they have a month-long internship. So, like right now we have three paramedic students from Southeast Community College, and they're spending the next month with us, each on a different get that field experience...before they can take their national registry and all that fun stuff."

That more extensive training has reduced the number of potential paramedics. Staffing is becoming one of the big challenges for departments.
"They used to be turning out...the different training agencies in the state...when it was a one-year program, we used to have a lot more paramedics in the system. Since it's been changed because of accreditation, it's a two-year program, so we're not producing as many parademics to go out and work as we were in the it does create a little bit of a challenge."

Other challenges for ambulance and rescue services include the growing cost of equipment…and the sophistication of it….which can make repairs a longer process. Daake said a basic challenge is making sure people know when to call 9-1-1, and when not to. Still, the basic services such as requests for patient lift assistance, will remain.

"I think that's always going to be there....and it's a service we can provide to help people. We still have to do reports for those calls and it still consumes labor and time...but as long as there's that need out there, we're going to fill that gap, as we can."

Beatrice Fire and Rescue vehicles carry the words, “Our family helping Your Family”…..a logo Daake says was developed about fifteen years ago….and serves as a motto the department stands by.