Volunteers help revive Petersburg's EMS - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

9/6/09

Volunteers help revive Petersburg's EMS

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By Brittany Pieper  - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - At the end of last year the small town of Petersburg was forced to give up their EMS license because of a lack of human and material resources. To get that license back the town needed two people to become certified EMTs, but 20 took on the challenge.

When a medical emergency happens, a quick response time is key. "If you know anything at all about cardiac cases, for every minute the brain goes without oxygen is a 10% lower chance of survival," said Bill Curnow, the Disaster Chair for the South Plains Regional Chapter of the Red Cross. That's why ambulance services are critical.

When the town lost its EMS service license, the citizens knew they had to do something to protect their community. "We're 20 minutes or 20 miles away from the nearest ambulance service, and we're not getting any younger," said Randy Mayfield.

Since November of last year Petersburg has relied on Abernathy to respond to more than 20 emergency calls. That's why Mayfield and 19 other community members decided to make the commitment to give up about 10 hours a week for four months to take the Emergency Medical Technician course.

"I've got six grandbabies here in town that I want to be able to take care of, and I want them to have an ambulance service that we can count on," said Richard Waller.

One local employer, Wylie Manufacturing, even gave their employees paid time off to complete the course work. "He's letting us go on the days that we're supposed to be working, we're doing our rotation," said Anthony Parraz.

In July, 18 volunteers passed the class and started their clinical rotations. This fall they will take their National Registry Exams. There is still paperwork with the state to be done, but Petersburg is well on their way to getting their EMS back. "Our goal is to have our ambulance service back up and running no later than the first of the year," said Mayfield. 

They hope the next time someone has a heart attack, a kid gets hurt in a high school football game, or a small child has an accident, they can be there.  "They haven't saved a life yet, but they've saved countless lives in the future, and now Petersburg will have a fighting chance to survive," said Curnow.

The Red Cross will honor the Petersburg volunteers, along with other community heroes, at a breakfast on Friday.

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