Geneseo’s EMTs are dedicated to service

Lisa Depies
Geneseo Ambulance Service members include, front row, from left: Rick Mills, Marcia Boyer, Trista Simpson, Sheila Finley and Spencer Rusk. Back row, from left: Larry Dawson, Dennis Mallum, Nancy Stoneberger, Kay Palmer, Terri Kandis, David Jost, Jean Roman and Nick Simpson. Not pictured are: Janette Arkland, Tom Buttgen, Chris Carmichael, Jim Crozier,?Dave Darnall, Dawn Gillis, Veronica Juchcinski, Carol Wiesman and John Winters.

Geneseo’s all-volunteer ambulance crew is a bit of a rarity for the area.

“We’re the only all-volunteer service in Henry County that staffs two intermediate life-support ambulances,” said David Jost, who’s been a member of the Geneseo ambulance crew for the past 12 years. Prior to that, he was an EMT in Chicago.

“We’re right on the verge of providing the same things paramedics provide,” he noted.

“To be as small of a town as we are and to have two ambulances is really an accomplishment. It’s a reflection of what we do to keep ourselves certified,” said?Jost.

“All over the state there are ambulance services folding because they can’t get enough volunteers.”

The two Geneseo ambulances are loaded with cabinets and drawers containing medical equipment for most imaginable emergencies and the technology available keeps advancing.

“Our goal is to always increase the services we can provide to the residents,” said Jost.

Later this month, ambulance volunteers will receive training on new 12-Lead E.K.G. and new communication procedures which will allow electrocardiograms to be sent directly from an ambulance to the hospital’s emergency physicians.

“Lost time is lost heart tissue. The sooner you can pass along information to the hospital, the bigger a difference it makes,” said?Jost.

Though the technology is high-tech, at the core of the ambulance service’s success are its volunteers.

Right now, the service has more than 20 volunteers. Most are either EMT-basics or EMT-intermediate.

“EMT-intermediate is the highest level of EMT,” said Jost.

Volunteers must be at least 18 with a high school diploma or GED.

“You have to be a self-starter with the initiative and drive to get things done,” said Jost.

“You have to be detail oriented. We want EMTs who sweat the small stuff.”

Helping to save the lives of fellow community members can be a thrill for those on the ambulance crew.

“You get to make a difference in somebody’s life. That’s a rewarding feeling,” said Kay Palmer, who has been an EMT in Geneseo for the past 26 years.

“There’s a connection you have with your patients when you live and serve in your own community,” said Jost.

“It’s nice to know that you’re helping,” said Spencer Rusk, the service’s newest member.

Rusk has been with the Geneseo Ambulance service for only a few months.

“It’s nice to be able to help, but it’s also an adrenaline rush,” he explained.

“You sort of become an EMS junkie. Even though I’ve been doing this for years, I still get a shot of adrenaline every time there’s a call,” said Palmer.

In 2011, members of the Geneseo Ambulance service responded to 755 calls.

“Those are all 911 calls. We don’t do any transfers,” said Jost. The service covers 126 square miles.

“There is no average week. Every day is different,” said Jost.

Though each call is different, crew members say they most frequently see patients who are having trouble breathing or have chest pain or those who have fallen or been involved in an accident.

“When people call us, they’re going through a situation that’s out of their control. There’s a lot of psychological TLC we offer as well,”? said Jost.

After an ambulance is called, Jost said it’s extremely helpful if others in the household can turn on a porch light or stand outside to help draw the crew’s attention to the home.

“It’s also important to have your house numbered.?If you live in the country, have your address on both sides of your mailbox,” he said.

The EMTs also recommend any family pets, especially dogs, be put away.

“Dogs can become very territorial when we start touching or working with their owner,” explained Jost.

The?Geneseo Ambulance Service welcomes new volunteers or those who would like more information about the organization.

The group meets at 6 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month for training, and interested parties are welcome to stop by at that time.

Applications also are available at the Geneseo Ambulance?Service office during regular business hours.

For more information, phone 944-5544.