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Kenneth Reed’s Reach Goes Far Beyond Rugby

By Staff | May 29, 2015

Pictures submitted. Kenneth Reed teaches NAS EMTs to use a seated spinal immobilization device.

Kenneth “Ken” Reed, from Rugby, who is the EMS Director for the Heart of America Medical Center, was part of a two-week training exercise in Ghana. The two- week training program was facilitated after a visit to North Dakota five years ago by Mr. Kofi Portuphy, National Coordinator of the National Disaster Management Organization upon the invitation of the North Dakota National Guard through the US Embassy in Ghana. The North Dakota National Guard funded the trip. The goal of the team from the US, in collaboration with the National Ambulance Service (NAS), was to train the 30 Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and 15 observers and physician evaluators to provide vital health care to the sick and injured before reaching a health facility.

The NAS was established in 2004 and has been trying to build an effective EMS system for the country ever since. That is why the workshop was so valuable. Professor Ahmed Nuhu Zakariah, Chief Executive Officer of the NAS said, “The aim of the service is to administer, maintain, and operate a state of comprehensive emergency medical services system throughout Ghana that is designed to reduce medical emergency deaths, injuries, and permanent or long-term disability through the implementation of a fully integrated cohesive network of related components.” He continued, “The system provides for the arrangement of personnel, facilities, such as equipment primarily in the pre-hospital setting, for the coordinated delivery of health care services under emergency conditions.” He noted that NAS, as part of its mandate, is to ensure that health service delivery is brought to the doorsteps of every Ghanaian and cited the upgrading of emergency medical services as one of the crucial components.

Prof. Zakariah mentioned the development of EMT Basic Curriculum, training of First Responder Trainers and the sponsorship for two EMTs to go to North Dakota to be trained as paramedics as some of the benefits of the collaboration. While certificates and awards were presented to the participants, Rugby EMS, Sanford EMS Education and Cooperstown Ambulance donated much needed first aid equipment, totaling more than $2,000, to the Ghana NAS.

Ken Reed, as part of the five- member medical team, all from North Dakota, was one of the professionals who taught the 45-member consortium from Ghana. Ms. Kelli Sears the EMS Training Coordinator out of Bismarck led the five-member team. The rest of the delegation was made up of members from Fargo and Bismarck respectively. Ken’s qualifications include more than 41 years of emergency health care and public safety experience with progressive levels of responsibility. Ken has designed and implemented organizational plans, educational curriculums, training, quality improvement, and safety programs in numerous settings. Ken has also maintained an active clinical role, retaining skills and knowledge of advanced pre-hospital care & transportation. Ken was chosen to accompany the five-member team based on his vast experience and reputation as an EMS educator and paramedic.

When Ken was asked what he thought about the training mission, he declared, “I believe our mission was to prepare the students to successfully complete the U.S. National Registry EMT skills examination and to prepare them to conduct future testing of their training program graduates.” Ken divulged that all 30 EMTs that were tested at the end of the training program passed; this success is a testament to all involved.

The trip was more than just teaching new and enthusiastic EMTs. It was about learning as much as teaching, and receiving as much as giving. When asked what struck him most about the culture and the people of Ghana, Ken replied, “The people of Ghana are some of the most friendly and enthusiastic that I have ever met. Though they all come from very diverse regions and languages, there is a common positive outlook among them. They place great emphasis on hospitality and ceremony. Their EMTs were very serious about learning with precision and they displayed a huge desire to learn all they could from us during our visit. Despite their serious focus, they are quick to laugh and inject humor, making us feel very welcome and comfortable.”

Ken then reflected on his lasting impressions of Ghana by sharing, “I think of the new friends that I have made on this trip and their impact on my renewed enthusiasm in my professional work. All we encountered treated us like familiar friends, and I felt that all I did was greatly appreciated.”

We then asked Ken to share anything he thinks that the Pierce County Tribune readers would like to know further about his trip he informed us, “Ghana is located in Western Africa near the Equator, so the days are all pretty much the same. Sunrise around 6am and sunset around 6pm. The temperature stays in the low 90’s most days with near 90% humidity. Our team adjusted to the climate quickly with adequate hydration.” He continued, “We tried most of the local foods which are mostly starches with some protein from meats. Local food is flavored with “hot” spices for the most part.” Ken further shared. “We stayed in the metropolitan region of Accra for most of our visit. Accra is a sprawling area of several million people that has elements of modern living with high levels of poverty visible throughout. The traffic is unbelievable and I was glad that the US Embassy provided us with local drivers to navigate the roads for us. No matter the time of day or night, cars and people were active throughout the area. The country has challenges with power generation and it is not unusual for most Ghanaians to be without power for up to 12 hours during any 24 hour period.”

Ken further added, “On our free weekend, I chose to spend a 24-hour shift with one of the National Ambulance crews located at the Lekma hospital in the Teshie district of Accra. The hospital provides comprehensive care to both adults and children, but lacks much of the modern medical equipment that we take for granted here in Rugby. Ambulances often drive patients to multiple hospitals until they can find one willing to accept the patient. On this trip it gave me time for reflection on how fortunate we are to have the resources and quality of health care here in Rugby.”

Rugby is also fortunate to have a facility like the Heart of America Medical Center and medical professionals like Kenneth Reed.

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