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By Guest Editorial Bruce Brending
Cheif of EMS, Klickitat County 

EM Corner: what's it like to be an EMT?


March 11, 2020

Did you ever see an ambulance parked somewhere and wonder what it is like to work as an EMT or Paramedic in Klickitat County?

Klickitat County EMS District 1 employs 18 full time EMTs and Paramedics who provide Advanced Life Support care and transport in all of Klickitat County except Alderdale and Bickleton. They respond to calls for service from three different stations. There is a station in Goldendale, Dallesport, and White Salmon.

Each of these stations are staffed with a Paramedic and EMT 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

What type of calls do they typically respond to and what type of patient care do they provide? As emergency medical responders will tell you, there is no average or typical call. It can be anything from a ground-level fall to a heart attack or stroke. The important thing is your EMS medical teams are here to help when some type of emergency occurs.

Our response area is very large, and included in our response areas are two hospitals: Klickitat Valley Health in Goldendale and Skyline Hospital in White Salmon. These two hospitals are frequently transferring patients to other hospitals in Portland or Yakima Valley for further care of their patients, taking one of your 911 ambulances out of the response area for extended periods of time on average anywhere from three to six hours. This happened 395 times in 2019, and the total number of calls for service district wide was 2,197. To ensure the EMS District is providing the best response possible for our citizens we will move the ambulance stationed in Dallesport and temporarily post it at the vacant station when these transfers occur. Any time there is a call for service we rely on our excellent first responders from our local fire districts to provide emergency care until one of your Advanced Life Support Ambulances can arrive and transport the patient. We also have mutual aid agreements with our other Advanced Life Support partners to assist if they are available during these times.

Your EMTs and Paramedics are members of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 5172 (IAFF) and work 48 hours on with 96 hours off. They are required to maintain certifications in Advanced Life Support, Pediatric, CPR, Airway Management, IV therapy, and other skills while keeping up on their continuing education requirements too.

Klickitat County EMS District 1 is committed to being responsive to the needs of our community. We strive to be good stewards of the trust you have placed in us and work continuously to improve and enhance our response ability, so we can provide the highest possible level of care to everyone in the community.

The author of this article is Paramedic Bruce Brending, Chief of EMS Operations, Klickitat County EMS District 1. He has been involved in EMS in Klickitat County since 1991. He can be reached at bbrending with any questions you may have regarding the ambulance operations of the EMS District.


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