Medical first responders ready to help

FORD RIVER — Ford River Township has been keeping their community even safer over the past year with the installation of medical first responders (MFR). When the program began in November of 2015, the group of dedicated volunteers were one of the first persons on the scene of 911 emergency situations.

Currently, there are five people who are trained as medical first responders, who can have a patient ready to be transported to area hospitals by the time Rampart or another emergency service arrive, said Todd Holland, head of the program and also a volunteer medical first responder. The volunteer MFRs consist of Todd Holland, Dave Simmons, Chris Germain, Paul Porath and Tricia Bernier. Other volunteers involved with the program are Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) Joel Olson, Tim Johnson, and Heather Troyer.

In order to become a MFR, Holland said the group had to go through a training course that consisted of 80 hours of training and testing, including taking a state test that certifies the person. Holland explained a medical first responder is a step under an EMT, adding even so, the personnel are still able to do many tasks.

“There’s a lot of things we can do,” he said. A majority of the responders live in the Escanaba area and are available to be on the scene of an emergency within 10 minutes, he added.

In 2016, the responders were requested to assist on 112 cases, explained Holland, noting it’s a busy lifestyle but the rewards out weigh the risks.

“That’s why we do it,” he said. “We get there and do whatever we can to stabilize the patient before

they (Rampart) arrive. It saves a lot of time.”

In the beginning stages, Holland said the former Ford River Township fire chief started to “get the ball rollin” on the program, but due to medical reasons, had to step down. Holland took over the progress of moving it forward and it has been successful ever since. In 2015, the township authorized the program for a year trial run. Because it was successful, the township gave approval for the responders to continue serving in 2016.

Holland said the program is looking for more volunteers, especially from the Ford River Township area, to be medical first responders. Anyone interested can contact Holland at 280-7537.

One responder, Dave Simmons, said the training consisted of a lot of hands on demonstrations, explaining the group worked with an instructor from Rampart at Bay College and the training took a couple of weeks to complete.

Simmons noted having the responders available in the township brings a sense of security to the area.

“I’m sure the people feel safer,” he said.

“It’s all around a good community thing,” he said.

Chris Germain, also a MFR for Ford River Township, said the group has a 97 percent response rate, meaning whenever they are called for assistance, most or all of the responders head to the scene to assist in anyway they can.

“In a critical situation, a few minutes could make a difference in someone’s life,” said Germain.

Although MFR’s cannot do all of the tasks of an EMT, Germain said they are able to perform some stabilizing tasks such as CPR, having neck braces with them, and working with wounds.

“We’re there to help stabilize the situation,” Germain explained, adding they sometimes travel in the back of the ambulance assisting Rampart in any way they can.

Overall, Germain said the program has been a success and the medical first responders are looking forward to continuing their service for 2017.

“I think we’ve been very successful for our first year,” Germain said. “We’re looking forward to continue to serve our community.”