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Clydesdale Award: Pondera County EMS Recognized at Annual Chamber Banquet

On March 30th, at the Conrad Area Chamber of Commerce 54th annual banquet, Pondera County Emergency Medical Services were recognized with the Clydesdale Award. The Chamber describes the Clydesdale Award as: A group or organization that has displayed a workhorse ethic and shown team work, working together on a concept or project for the benefit of our area.


We are so proud, once again, of our EMS Crew and all they do for Pondera Medical Center, Pondera County and the surrounding areas. This is a dedicated team made up of several talented individuals who go above & beyond 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 52 weeks every year.


The nomination for EMS reads:

Entrusted with the lives of those they help, the Pondera County EMS serves our community with professionalism, confidentiality, compassion and sensitivity. They not only administer to physical needs, but also to the emotional state of the patient.

Originally run by Wyse funeral home using a station wagon-like vehicle, the EMT’s provided a basic load-and-go operation with a bare minimum of services. The EMT services were taken over by the county in the late 1980’s. It has evolved over the years to become more like a mini ER on wheels. They can do many types of treatment from splinting to EKG’s and IV’s, drug administration, intubations, and blood draws. All these increase the efficiency of treatment when they get to the Emergency Room.

One of our first EMT’s, Joe Christiaens, had a state license number 32. Ruth Erickson, currently our longest serving EMT (25 years) license number 1821. In 2018, latest registered state number was 59626.

We now have 17 EMT’s ages 20-61; with 11 serving Conrad and 6 in Valier. Of these, 5 are men and 12 are women; and of the 6 paramedics, 5 are men and 1 woman. 2 of our paramedics are full-time, and 4 part-time. 3 responders take call at a time- 1 paramedic and 2 EMT’s. The state requires applicants to be at least 18 years of age, have a GED or a High School diploma to be eligible for the EMT Training.

Training for basic EMT includes 140-160 hours of class time and double that of study hours. They must pass a practical test for skills and a computer test. Students purchase their own books and the test. Currently, Sam Thornton is leading a class with 11 students. They will finish in May and test in June. Every 2 years they need to have about 40 hours continuing ed plus about 24 refresher hours.

Our EMT’s and Paramedics spend an average of 60 hours every 2 weeks on call; and some up to 200 hours. They do this on top of their regular jobs.

In 2018, the Pondera Ambulance received a Level III Platinum Pediatric Readiness Designation, a level that is higher than most rural services in the state. This demonstrates excellence in Pediatric care, responsibility to provide education, training and outreach within the community. It establishes a P.E.C.C. role, coordinates pediatric services, ensures peds specific protocols and training, promotes pediatric injury prevention and community outreach. This is a voluntary recognition program for services to go above and beyond to improve standards and capabilities to deliver care to pediatric patients.

Last year, Valier started a First Responder class through the high school and students did a ride-along. This was a great career orientation for those interested in medical fields.

In the state of Montana, we are one of two ambulance services that are dually operated. The county provides the Ambulance and Pondera Medical Center pays the salaries for the EMT’s and paramedics. Others are county owned or privately run.

EMS responded to about 380 calls in 2018 for an average of 31.7 calls per month.

In August, average response times from page to barn, were daytime: 5 minutes, nighttime: 7-10 minutes.

These dedicated responders do this for $3/hour while on call and $8-$12 while on service call. In 1986, it was $.25/hour.

Along with First Responder care, they also do community service, trainings and other involvement. They provide CPR training at the high school, and basic first-aid for the junior high. At National Night Out, they do blood pressure checks and ambulance tours. During the Health Fair, they do blood pressure checks. They participate in community disaster drills. They provide education for fall prevention and oxygen use and safety at the Horizon Lodge. They stand by at football games, the high school and Lion’s Club rodeo. Our EMT’s are there for our community in our times of need.

There are times that EMS gets a call and the patient doesn’t need to be transported; and can be treated on sight. Sometimes they are able to comfort patients and reassure them that they are okay. EMT’s have let dogs out, brought them toast, and tucked them in bed. They treat others like family. EMS takes these calls and serves the community, while sacrificing time with their own families.

God bless our EMT’s and paramedics for all they do for our community.

We are proud to present the Clydesdale Award to our Emergency Medical Service providers!



Pondera County EMS receives their Clydesdale Award

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