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Ruth Erickson Awarded "Career EMS Provider of the Year" for the State of Montana

A wonderful celebration of EMS professionals beat the storms on Wednesday, May 19th, where DPHHS honored Emergency Medical Services provers at the Montana Capitol building. As part of National Emergency Medical Services Week, Governor Greg Gianforte gave an address and presented awards to honor:

· Volunteer EMS Provider of the Year Award: This award honors a volunteer EMS provider who is exemplary in his/her quality of patient care and dedication to their community.

· Career EMS Provider of the Year Award: This award is for a career EMS provider who exemplifies quality of care and dedication to the community.

· EMS Service of the Year Award: An EMS service of the year exhibits dedication to improving patient care through education, injury prevention, community awareness, medical director involvement and collaboration with surrounding EMS services.

· EMS Supporter of the Year Award: This award honors an individual who has demonstrated exceptional support for EMS, EMS agencies and the broader EMS system.

· EMS for Children Pediatric EMS Award: This award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated excellence in providing pediatric EMS care and /or education. The awardee serves as an outstanding role model for colleagues while consistently demonstrating commitment to high-quality, professional EMS care to the pediatric patient.

Pondera Medical Center is very proud to share with our community that our own Ruth Erickson, AEMT, and Pondera County Ambulance Services manager was the chosen and worthy recipient of the Career EMS Provider of the Year Award! Ruth is a staple in our community and to Emergency Medical Services in our entire region. We are very proud of the crew we have and the services we provide to our community, and Ruth is a critical piece of the longevity and ongoing success.

Ruth was joined by her husband, Ed Erickson, daughter Cassie Devries, Grandson Jason Devries, PMC Board Chair Bernard Ries and his wife Patty, crew members Ria French and Heidi Fowler, and PMC Chief Nursing Officer, Laura Erickson and Pondera County Sheriff, Robert Skorupa. Ruth shares, “It was nice to have friends and family there. This is the first time the Governor has given out the awards and been the keynote speaker. Touring the Governor’s wing of the capitol was wonderful- it’s such a beautiful building.” Ruth is very humble and while she won’t speak of her own accomplishments, she is always quick to recognize her crew and what they mean to this area, often heard saying “We’re here because we care.” Daughter Cassie said, “I was extremely proud and honored to watch my mom awarded for all of her hard work and dedication for the people of Pondera County. My brothers and I are not only proud to call her mom, but she is truly a hero.”

Ruth was nominated by Ria French, a Paramedic for Pondera County Ambulance and long-time colleague of Ruth’s. Ria’s nomination explains Ruth’s compassion and dedication to the services Pondera County EMS provides and for patients in their care. You can read the nomination in its entirety below.

Of her nominee being selected, Ria shared, “It was a privilege traveling to Helena today to watch Ruth accept an award and recognition which she so deserved. I can’t even begin to wrap my head around the lives she’s touched and brought her light to in the darkest of moments. Today was EMS for Children Day, which is a day in EMS week I hold close to my heart as a Mom and our Pediatric Emergency Care Coordinator for EMS. Ruth talked me through countless tear-filled days in her office working through tough calls together, and we worked until our Pediatric Readiness Program was to the highest standard we could make it. Pondera County is truly blessed to have Ruth and her dedication to service.”

Ruth Erickson has been an Emergency Medical Technician for Pondera County Ambulance for 28 years, primarily as the service manager. She was instrumental in kicking off Pondera County Ambulance’s Pediatric Readiness program. Cassie adds, “Within the last year in Montana, there were over 130,000 911 calls and over 7,000 of those were for pediatric calls. This is why our Pediatric Readiness program is vital for our area which my mom was instrumental in helping implement here.”

Pondera Medical Center is so proud of Ruth and our entire EMS Crew for everything they are to this area. They bring peace of mind to the way of life we love, no matter the weather conditions or event. Thank you, Pondera County and Ruth Erickson, for your unprecedented dedication to your trade. And Ruth, our most heartfelt congratulations on your Career EMS Provider of the Year Award!

Here is Ruth’s nomination:

The last year has been anything but easy, and I truly think the dedication and sacrifice of our EMS providers has been an outstanding beam of light through the darkness that so many of us have experienced. Among those providers, in all of my years of working in EMS myself, there is one person who stands out of the crowd. I would like to nominate Ruth Erickson, AEMT for the 2021 EMS Career Provider of the Year Award.

Ruth has been an EMT for Pondera County Ambulance in Conrad for 28 years. I can’t even begin to wrap my head around the number of calls she’s answered. The number of miles she’s driven through terrifying winter roads, night or day, in hopes of delivering her patient and her crew safely to their destination. The number of shaky hands she’s held, as her always reassuring Mom voice confidently states, “You’re in good hands. We’re here to help you.” I’ve never met anyone with the kind of compassion, integrity, and true Montana spirit that Ruth displays daily.

For much of that time, Ruth has served as Ambulance Manager for our EMS service in Conrad. Her job description on paper does not even begin to embody what she does in her position. Coordinating an EMS schedule for both Conrad and Valier in rural Montana has its set of challenges, but the pandemic added another level of difficulty and strain to our already thin call calendar. Many of our service members are paid volunteers, which means they have entire careers and families outside of EMS they try to juggle around their dedication to the community. But as COVID set in, many people had to make difficult decisions for themselves and their families, and that unfortunately led to a lot more holes in our schedules. Those holes never went unfilled, as Ruth was never far with a radio attached to her hip, ready to jump in and help whenever it was and is needed.

Her dedication to the community isn’t her only strong point. Her dedication to her crew is unwavering. In 2019, I had a string of very difficult pediatric calls. I struggled for months, trying to cope with the things I’d seen and tried to fix, but couldn’t. I don’t know how many tear-filled days we spent together in her office working through those calls together, and turning those bad experiences we shared together into something our community could benefit from. From that, our Pediatric Readiness Program was kicked into high gear, and I’m proud to say our service is one of the most Pediatric-ready in the state.

This year’s EMS week theme could not be more appropriate for Ruth. I have never met, now worked with, anyone with such dedication and devotion to helping her community, her team, and her patients. Whether its coordinating full-day pediatric training and readiness programs, to working endlessly to write grants together and find more funding, or put on community events with the hospital- Ruth is always working towards the mission statement for Pondera Medical Center, which is “Best of Care, Close to Home.”

Thank you for taking the time to consider Ruth for this nomination. I hope the rest of 2021 is nothing but great!

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