When you call 911, you rightly expect someone to come help. But do you realize that in this valley, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) are provided by volunteers ?
As Kim Low Averett put it,
“most folks don’t realize how difficult it is to cover EMS 24/7-365 days a year with a dozen or so volunteers. It really does become our life!”
And this is nothing new. It’s always been this way.
In this brief history, a member of Kamas Valley EMT, Terry Taylor explains how these services have evolved in our valley. Terry attempts to honor all those who came before her.
We in turn say thank you for all you and your team are doing in this current crisis.
Many caring people in the Kamas Valley contributed to the health and emergency care of others. In the late 50’s and early 60’s, if someone needed transportation to the hospital John and Rose Bigelow used their own station wagon. John drove and Rose, who was a registered nurse, took care of the patients while en route to the hospital.
Later in the early 60’s the South Summit Health Council purchased a Buick station wagon, which was converted to an ambulance. It was bright red and was equipped with a stretcher. John Bigelow and Bud Pitt were drivers, along with other volunteers.
In 1973, Federal, State and local funding became available, allowing several volunteers to be trained as Emergency Medical Technicians, and provided for the purchase of ambulances.
Summit County acquired 3 ambulances – Park City, South Summit and North Summit each received one box-style ambulance equipped with supplies. The training classes were held in urban areas so the volunteers traveled to Salt Lake City and Provo for their training. Many of the courses were held on weekends because the rural participants were employed during the week. South Summit Ambulance was manned by volunteers for 19 years, and it was housed in Kamas Fire Station.
We operated with what we could collect from the billing of insurance etc. The City of Kamas also gave each person who completed the course some money. I can’t remember the amount, but the EMTs then donated back half of it to our funding.
We also registered with the State of Utah to be included in the South Summit EMT Association. We taught first aid and CPR classes and the money for these classes went to our Association to help provide additional training.
When I certified with Utah Emergency Services in 1976, we were required to have Continuing Medical Education and to re-certify every 2 years. Later, they changed to recertification to every 4 years. We had to take a written and practical skills test with the State of Utah to re-certify, including a minimum requirement of CME hours.
In the early 80’s Summit County took over the ambulance and provided us with a budget. Summit County EMS Council was formed and met on a regular basis, usually quarterly. We had the opportunity to receive grant money for supplies, training , and equipment.
We also moved from the fire station and had various other locations in Kamas where the ambulance was housed. Eventually we were able to have a building exclusively for our vehicles and supplies and gear. The building also included a training room, storage, and office.
It was and always should be a team effort to provide the best care available for those that need EMS.