The Moody County ambulance service will celebrate EMS week during the week of May 21-27.
EMS Week is an annual event acknowledged across the country by ambulance services, hospitals and other professionals involved in emergency medical services.
For the first time this year the Moody County EMS will host an open house for members of the community to see their facility as well as their equipment.
The open house will be on Thursday, May 25, from 4-9 p.m. Eric Kovach, ambulance supervisor, said they will have the two current ambulances open for people to walk through along with a demo ambulance.
“We’re trying to get a bid together for a brand new ambulance,” Kovach said. “So we’ll have one of those demo ambulances here so people can walk through and see the difference between what we have and what we could have.”
One of the county’s current ambulances is around 5 years old while the other is closer to 20. Though a $200,000 price tag for a new ambulance might seem high, the Moody County ambulance service has pieces of potentially life-saving equipment on their ambulances that cost right around $40,000.
For this reason, Kovach said the ambulances really are an emergency room on wheels.
He said for the county EMS to continue to grow, purchasing a new ambulance is something that needs to happen, so the staff is going to explore every possible avenue they can for funding.
Another opportunity for the county staff during EMS Week is to stay active in the community and show people in the county everything they’re capable of doing.
Recently, the Moody County ambulance started a training center, which can train first responders in first aid, CPR and an ambulance driving class, which will begin next month.
The training center will also provide a trauma/life support class, which is a certification the state recommends anyone working at an ambulance to have.
“On the East River side [of South Dakota] nobody else is really doing that,” Kovach said. “We’re finding that niche we can go into and really be sort of a progressive ambulance service.”
Kovach said he also would encourage people to attend the EMS Week open house to see the number of changes the ambulance service has made in the last year.
The ambulance is fully staffed, with a number of talented part-time individuals, and trying to grow even bigger. The state has been encouraging more county ambulance services to move away from a volunteer service to a more professional service.
One unique recruiting tool the county has, that community members can view at the open house, is the lodging provided for part-time ambulance staff who live outside of the Flandreau city limits.
Because part-time staff are expected to be active in the service for at least one 24-hour shift each month, a bed, shower and kitchen are provided while they are in town during that time.
“Not everyone is able to provide really comfortable surroundings,” Kovach said. “I’ve worked for other companies that it was a mobile home covered in black mold and the shower felt like you were going to fall through the floor… To have what we have is remarkable.”
He is hoping the open house next week will draw a number of people from the county and make the day a big celebration, so when EMS Week comes around again next year, the event will bring in even more people.