County News

Walhalla Ambulance Service: Support Through The Toughest Times

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By Liz Beck

Pembina County 911 Coordinator


We all have bumps in the road, and it's how you recover that makes a difference. Lori Lorz, President of the ambulance service, said, “We want people in the community to know that we as a group, we work together, have fun together, it’s like family.” Cheryl Trupe added, “We support each other through some of the toughest times. You can look at each other, and see when something’s getting to be too much, and they need to step back for a while.”

The service sees a fair amount of cardiac and breathing issues. “Any time there might be a possibility of cardiac or stroke, Advanced Life Support (ALS) is also called upon,” said Lorz, which can improve outcomes in emergencies like these. Cavalier Ambulance is ALS certified, whereas Walhalla Ambulance is ‘Basic Life Support’ certified. By working together, it lessens the time for the patient to arrive at the hospital. The two ambulance services intercept at a safe location along the roadside, where a trained Paramedic from Cavalier Ambulance enters Walhalla’s ambulance to administer life-saving techniques alongside Walhalla’s team performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Ambulance members coordinate with the school during ‘Emergency Medical Technician’ (EMT) week to instruct the students on a number of things. Trupe said “We bring a rig to the school, and bring a cot inside the classroom, along with a heart monitor and Lucas device (a CPR heart pumper). We have a dummy device to show how the Lucas works,” and demonstrate CPR using the machine, versus doing these things manually. “We had them do rotations of CPR, so they understood why we use this machine.” (CPR can be physically exhausting after a short time). “We actually hooked up one of the boys who volunteered, to a heart monitor, to show the class what a ’12-lead’ looks like.” Lorz added “The kids love going into the ambulance, and being able to say later, ‘I was in there, I rode in there once.’ ”

“The other thing we do with our school”, said Lorz, “We have juniors come in and take our Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) class. In fact, we have a soon to be sophomore who just can’t wait to take the EMR class. She wants to go into the medical field. What a great way to find out if you’re up for it or not.”

When asked about Walhalla’s community support, Lorz and Trupe said in unison, “Our financial support is AWESOME.” They explained that they receive donations from individuals, memorials, and fundraisers. Lorz said, “Our last fundraiser was our pancake breakfast, right before Easter. Instead of us purchasing all the products, we asked the local businesses to donate.” Between the food contributions and people who showed up, “we must have cleared about $9,000,” she said.

Lorz said, “Many of the senior citizens here tell me how happy they are to have the service.” Trupe added, “I think they are aware that if the service ‘goes’, they’re waiting 35 – 40 minutes for an ambulance to get here.”

The service recently received their new ambulance in mid-July. Trupe said, “It has the ‘Stryker Power-LOAD system’ built into the rig. So, it actually lifts for us. (Before we had the Stryker cot) if we attempt to lift more than we should, we can pay for it the next day, or with a potential long term injury.” She went on to say, “I would like to see some kind of fundraiser to retrofit our backup ambulance with the same kind of system, so that we’re not potentially hurting our back. Even with enough men from ‘Medical Assist’ helping us, between the weight of the cot and the patient, it could still injure someone’s back.”

Medical Assist is a team of 11 firemen from Walhalla Fire Department who are CPR certified, ‘Emergency Vehicle Operator’ Certified, have a strong back, and sign a HIPPA waiver to not disclose any confidential information. It is a great help to ambulance members when the primary ambulance is in use, and they are using the backup ambulance.

Lorz expressed appreciation to the community for their support, and added, “We need more willing to commit to the service.” Anyone interested may ask to do a ride-along or see a tour of the Ambulance.” People are welcome to contact the Service with any questions by dialing 701-549-2609.

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