The primary purpose of emergency medical services (EMS) is to provide efficient response and save a life when a community member faces a medical emergency. Having the most up-to-date equipment can often make a significant difference in the outcome.
In 2021, the Owen-Withee-Curtiss Fire and EMS District faced the need to upgrade the defibrillator machine in one of its three ambulances. The upgrade to having 12-lead electrocardiogram capability was needed to comply with a new Wisconsin EMS mandate.
Grace Dale, a volunteer firefighter and advanced emergency medical technician (AEMT) with the district, recognized how important the upgrade would be. She also serves as the district’s secretary/treasurer, health and safety officer for the fire department and quality assurance person for the ambulance service.
“We frequently have two of our ambulances out on calls, so having our third ambulance with the same 12-lead ECG capability and a modem to transmit cardiac information to the Marshfield or Eau Claire hospital could be lifesaving,” Dale said. “I want our ambulance service to be the best it can be for our communities. We’re the only area department to receive Advanced EMT certification. But our funds are very limited, and we didn’t have the extra funds to pay for a new defibrillator.”
Dale is also a respiratory therapist at Marshfield Medical Center, where she learned that funding could be available through a Security Health Plan Employee-Driven Corporate Giving grant. She nominated the Owen-Withee-Curtiss Fire and EMS District for a $1,000 grant, given monthly by Security to a charity or organization nominated by a Marshfield Clinic Health System employee that makes a positive difference in the community.
The approved grant from Security Health Plan supplemented frequent community fundraising efforts that support the district’s needs. Dale said the district receives great support from community members who attend fundraising dinners, dances and other events.
“We will be at an event and we’ll frequently get a thank you from a resident who says ‘I wouldn’t be here without you,’” Dale said.
For Grace Dale and all the district firefighters and EMTs, that’s what it’s all about.