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Life Saving Service

Article Date: 
26 November, 2010 - 06:00

The Morgan ambulance service in the County has a long history helping those in need. In 1943, a fire in a business with an apartment above injured Norma Williams. She and her husband were rescued from the fire, but Morgan had no ambulance service and no medical facility so she was taken to the old post office building on the corner of Commercial Street and 125 North. She waited until the next morning for an ambulance to arrive from Ogden. She was transported to the hospital, but later died.
Early the next year the county commission and city council acted and purchased an ambulance, which was manned by volunteers. Originally there was only one driver and the person requesting the service was expected to provide help with the patient and in the ambulance. The cost for this service was $5.00.
The ambulance service has come a long way since then and plays an even more important role in saving the lives of Morgan citizens. Terry Turner is the ambulance supervisor for Morgan, a role he has had since 1997. Turner has seen many changes and improvements during his tenure as supervisor.
These ambulance drivers are some of the unsung heroes for which to be thankful in the county. Few individuals know who they are, until their services are needed.
The county now has three ambulances and twenty four EMTs who volunteer to man them. At any given moment three individuals in the community are on call to rush to the aid of those in need. They work on a rotation basis. They either serve Monday through Friday from six a.m. to six p.m., from six p.m. to six a.m., or a weekend shift from Friday at 6:00 p.m. to Sunday at 6:00 p.m. During this time the EMTs cannot leave the county and must have their pager with them.
The lives of the volunteers, during the one week a month they are on call, can be interrupted at any moment. Their pager will sound off with the address and the nature of the injuries. That is their call to action. The three EMTs then meet at the fire station and take the ambulance to provide service.
The ambulance service is now certified for intermediate care, and they provide a wide range of life saving procedures in transit including IVs, intubation, defibrillation, and many other services. Austin Turner, one of the volunteers since 1998 commented that he has seen just about everything there is to see, except delivering a baby.
The freeway corridor through the county means that the EMTs have more experience than they would like in dealing with trauma injuries. The high speed accidents that occur on the freeway can have serious consequences for those involved. During this time of year, when the weather is turning cold an additional challenge is added. The EMT must quickly assess the needs of the injured party, provide initial treatment, and as quickly as possible get the patient to a warm environment and out of the elements.
The ambulance service has responded to more than 260 calls this year. Many of these are friends or neighbors in need of special attention. Austin comments, “We end up dealing a lot with friends and family. Up here we have to take care of our own…There is more ownership up here in what we do. We see the people we deal with on a daily basis at the grocery store, at church, or wherever we are at.”
Morgan ambulance has the challenge of dealing with many different types of calls. They are dispatched to houses in the county and to automobile accidents, but also into the back country to provide service. Austin remembers one call where they had to ride on four wheelers for nearly an hour to reach the patient. The ambulance service then called for an airlift.
While the ambulance crew occasionally uses airlift transport, it is often quicker to travel by vehicle. Transport times are normally less than twenty minutes. During this time the EMTs are working to provide care to the patient and contact the hospital to let them know they are in route and to coordinate care with the doctors. It is this combination of factors that helps save lives. Quick response, care in route, coordination with the hospital and immediate care on arrival without the normal triage at the hospital all combine to ensure that the patient receives care as quickly as possible. In many situations this is the difference between life and death.
The EMTs that man the ambulance go through a rigorous training process for certification. Even the basic certified EMTs have more than 120 hours of training, the intermediate have even more.  This initial training is followed by testing and mock exercises to validate their skills. They then participate in regular refresher training in addition to their experience on the job. Several members of the ambulance crew have nearly thirty years of experience treating and transporting patients.
The ambulance service transports patients to all the major hospitals at the request of the patient. Except in the most life threatening circumstances the patient can choose which hospital to which they want to be transported. The ambulance service has transported patients to virtually all of the hospitals in Ogden and Salt Lake.
Austin reflected on his father’s service through the years. He remembers one time his father was called out of church, was flown to a person in need by helicopter, and then rode out on horseback, all in his suit. He also remembers Christmases, as a young man, when his father was called out to help those in need. “I remember as a little kid for two or three Christmases in a row my dad went out every Christmas Eve.” It was, and is, a sacrifice for the families, but one that provides a true service to the community and those assisted.
The ambulance service has continued to add equipment and services throughout the years to save lives. Five to six times a year all of the ambulances and three crews are needed at the same time. The ambulance service has developed procedures to accommodate this situation. The EMTs manning the ambulances continued to upgrade their skills, and the ambulances are regularly upgraded to the latest equipment. The ambulance service is currently requesting an upgrade to the defibrillator equipment that will allow the ambulance staff to transmit telemetry data directly to the hospital while the patient is in transit to ensure the best care can happen in the ambulance and the doctors are ready to immediately treat the patient when they arrive. This type of equipment is particularly important to Morgan where transport times are longer than in the valley below. The county council is currently considering this request as a part of the budget process.
The individuals of the ambulance service of Morgan quietly go about serving the community in which they live. Anyone can volunteer if they are willing to commit the time and receive the training. The current EMT force is about half women and half men. They come from all walks of life. They have dedicated their lives for a season to serving those around them.  If someone has the desire to serve they can contact Terry Turner at the county and Terry can provide additional details on the training and preparation necessary.
At this Thanksgiving season, The Morgan County News wants to thank those who take time from their lives to serve on the Morgan Ambulance service. These individuals and their families are some of the true heroes that serve without fanfare as they give of their talents, time, and dedication.