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Celebrate Your Local EMS, Because They Matter

By Staff | May 15, 2015

May 17th-23rd is National EMS Week. During Emergency Medical Services week, the community of Rugby and surrounding Pierce County can reflect on the excellent system that is in place to serve them. The Rugby Emergency Medical Services, a department of the Heart of America Medical Center, provides advanced life support ambulance response to the five county region surrounding the hospital.

Rugby has been fortunate to have high quality ambulance service since the early 1960’s. Initially, a group of concerned community members came together and created the Rugby Emergency Ambulance Service. This service was comprised of community volunteers who responded to requests for ambulance service and transportation. Throughout the years, many community members served with the ambulance service, donating their time to the community. The Heart of America Medical Center supported the local ambulance by providing housing of the ambulances, medical oversight and was one of the employers who would release their employees to respond on ambulance calls while at work.

In 1996, the hospital saw a need to provide more support to the local and regional volunteer ambulances. The need to add the capability of a licensed Paramedic to assist the volunteer EMT crews would clearly offer the community a higher level of care. The Golden Heart Paramedics program was started by the hospital and financed primarily through grants and local donations. The first Paramedics were hired and began responding to calls with volunteer ambulance services. The Paramedics were able to offer education and administrative support to the surrounding volunteer ambulance services in addition to the higher level of care.

The past several decades have seen a decline in volunteerism and the local ambulance service was not immune to that problem. The available pool of volunteers slowly began to decrease and the hospital began to serve an ever increasing role in the local system. In August of 2011, a functional merger occurred, resulting in the hospital becoming the primary provider of ambulance service in Rugby. The new service was relicensed under the name of Rugby Emergency Medical Services. Many of the former volunteers elected to continue providing care to the community as part-time employees of the hospital.

Today, the community is served by a comprehensive EMS program that is a team effort between hospital, local law enforcement, the fire department and the community at large. Rugby EMS operates two fully staffed advanced life support ambulances each day. These units are staffed by licensed Paramedics, Registered Nurses, Advanced and Basic EMTs and CPR-trained drivers. Over one-half of the community has been trained to perform CPR and the Rugby EMS has coordinated the deployment of over 30 automatic defibrillators throughout the community. 911 calls for assistance are answered by the Sheriff’s Office, local law enforcement officers serve as first responders to medical emergencies and the Rugby Fire Department provides rescue services and manpower assistance.

Rugby EMS is recognized as a leader in the delivery of high quality services and is a frequent grant recipient for funding to enhance our services. We provide care to patients within the hospital when not on ambulance responses. The Rugby EMS also provides support to the regional ambulance providers with education and training, billing services and operating a Community Training Center for the American Heart Association.

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