Town ambulance saved

Published 9:26 am Thursday, May 7, 2015

KIESTER — The town of Kiester came within less than six months of losing its ambulance service.

Thanks to ambulance employee efforts, that won’t be happening.

Kirsten Lorenz, president of and an EMT with Kiester Ambulance, said that the ambulance was down to just four EMTs at one point. The low numbers had gone on for about two to three years, putting too much of a strain on resources.

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About one year ago Lorenz said ambulance employees went door to door in the area to spread the word that help was needed, otherwise the ambulance services would be shut down. Having no success, she said they then went to the city council earlier this year and told them that if more EMTs or first responders weren’t hired, the ambulance would have to close. The council was given a deadline of June 1.

“We had to tell them we needed help,” said Lorenz. “We needed help or we’d have to shut down.”

Afterward, she said the council was quick to provide open houses to spread the word that numbers were down. Classes and training have since been offered and are still being offered at the community center through Riverland Community College.

Since the council meeting, Lorenz said Kiester Ambulance has gained one EMT and one first responder. They also currently have six more taking EMT courses and two taking first responder courses. There are also two registered nurses that are studying to take a test that would certify them as first responders.

According to Lorenz, first responders can perform a lot of the same tasks as EMTs, but cannot provide primary patient care. Because of this, first responders must always be accompanied by at least one EMT when going out on calls. First responders are require

d to take 48 hours of training, whereas EMTs are required to have 160 hours.

Thanks to the community response, Kiester Ambulance will continue to be operational.

In Lorenz’s words, “Things are looking good.”

About Colleen Harrison

Colleen Harrison is the photo editor at the Albert Lea Tribune. She does photography and writes general-assignment stories.

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