Mar-Mac Rescue Squad makes 24/7 commitment to community

Mar-Mac Rescue Squad members include (front, left to right) Ember Martin, Elizabeth Clark, Dana Ferguson, Kayla Thompson, Mike Gilman, (back) Dale Reinhart, Kate Young, Burt Walters, Tyler Thornton, Samantha Ferguson and Dylan Rumph. Missing are Joan Betthauser, Brenda Pankow, Sarah Grady, Randy Grady, Justin Mezera, Nick Stavroplus, Dan Bickel, Jerry Thornton and Trampus Thornton. (Photo by Audrey Posten)


By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor


May 18-24 has been designated Emergency Medical Services (EMS) week. No matter the time of day, or whether it’s a heart attack, broken bone or someone having trouble breathing, the rescue squad is always on hand to ensure local citizens get the help they need.


Mar-Mac Rescue Squad handles approximately 250 calls each year, said vice president Dylan Rumph, who has served for three years. Members respond to as many calls as they can, from as little as a few times each month to as many as 50.


“EMS is a 24/7 commitment,” said Samantha Ferguson, who has served for one year and four months, “but that’s what you are signing up for, helping whenever you can.”


Sometimes that means middle of the night wake-up calls or interrupting other obligations.


“There have been times where family gatherings were left behind, as well as candle light dinners,” said Dana Ferguson, who has 14 and a half years of service.


“EMS is a great profession, but not for the faint of heart,” added Kayla Thompson, who has served for eight years. “One has to want to do the job others don’t. People don’t understand how we can get out of bed at two in the morning in the middle of winter and to a stranger’s house to help them.”


Luckily, said EMTs Mike Gilman (20 years) and Elizabeth Clark (three and a half years), their employers are flexible and understanding.


While the EMTs generally agreed that winter, and the cold and flu season that comes with it, is the busiest time of year, there is also an uptick in the summer, with the increased number of tourists. They most commonly respond to elderly patients and other medical related 911 calls, such as car accidents.


“Pediatric calls can be a little intense, as they are totally different than adults,” said Dana Ferguson. “Attending patients who are well known or very young can be sad, especially if the call ends badly. EMS still cares about their patient even after the patient is turned over to the hospital. Updates would be nice to hear.”


“Every moment is memorable,” Clark said of the calls she responds to, a sentiment with which Gilman agreed.


“The most memorable calls for me are ones where the patient isn’t doing well and then you see them out in the community doing just fine,” Samantha Ferguson said. “It’s nice to see you had a hand in making a difference for that person.”


For Thompson, one moment in particular stands out. Seven years ago, on Super Bowl Sunday, there was a car accident on the Pikes Peak Hill. The patient needed a helicopter and Med Flight met them on scene, at the top of the hill.


“The patient made it,” she said.


For Rumph, having two CPR saves in 2010 will always stick in his mind.


Each person gets involved for their own reasons. Thompson got involved because some of her family members also serve. For Samantha Ferguson, Gilman and Clark, it was to give back to the community.


“I certified while I was living in Lansing,” Gilman said, “and I continued after moving here 14 years ago. In 1986, I became a Ferryville First Responder.”


“I enjoy helping others,” added Clark. “I wanted to also be part of a great organization.”


For Dana Ferguson and Rumph, being with the rescue squad gets them closer to the medical field.


“I wanted to help people get better,” Ferguson said. “I always wanted to be a nurse, so I guess this was just as good.”


“The EMS/medical field is always something I’ve been interested in,” Rumph said. “As a law enforcement officer, you are often first on scene. I always found myself wanting to do more.”


EMS involves more than responding to service calls. Crew members attend monthly trainings and go to seminars and conferences. They also help train other community members. 


Last month, Clark, who is a certified CPR and first aid instructor, trained and recertified 28 community members, helping them learn these lifesaving skills. The rescue squad urges other community members to enroll in a class, not just for yourself, but for your loved ones, as well. 


If you’re interested in becoming an EMT, speak with a current EMS member to get hooked up with a class, which Thompson said is approximately six months long, with ride time and hospital hours. Rumph suggests attending a meeting to see what it’s all about. The Mar-Mac Rescue Squad meets the first Sunday of each month, at 6 p.m.


There are also other ways you can help. When you see an ambulance, pull to the right side of the road and stop so the ambulance can pass. Personnel also have to respond to the station, so if you see a personal vehicle displaying a white light or emergency flashers, Rumph said you should pull to the right and allow them to pass.


Mar-Mac Rescue Squad would also like to hold more community events, beginning with an open house, held Sunday, June 8, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the McGregor Fire Station. Meet your local EMTs, check out the ambulance and learn about the local ambulance service. It will also be a great opportunity to learn more about becoming an EMT.


“All local EMS need support from the community,” Samantha Ferguson said. “Get involved when you can, support your local services and thank them when you can. Most people don’t realize how important these volunteers are until they’re calling 911 for themselves or a loved one.”


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