By Diana Hammell
Donn Hager has taken over for Mike Tornstrom as the Caledonia Ambulance Service’s new director. Hager said that Tornstrom has left the ambulance service in good shape and wants to keep up the good work that Tornstrom did.
“For the most part, we will continue on with what Mike started and improve on things where he left off,” Hager said. “The biggest thing is recruiting. We have lots of first responders but the need for EMTs in this community, and any small town community, is always an issue.”
Hager has been with the ambulance service for 15 years. “I worked for Tri-State for a couple of years and worked in Decorah for two and a half years too. I’ve always worked basically for Gundersen Lutheran that whole time.”
Lots has changed in the business as far as technology and equipment in the years Hager has been with the ambulance service. “We will have the ability to transmit 12 leads on an EKG that we couldn’t do before so the hospital can see what’s going on that they need to be aware of.” Hager said that they’ll be working on transmitting an entire EKG before they even get to the hospital in the future. When the health care professionals at the hospital can get that, then the patient can go directly to the cath lab.”
New first responders
The ambulance service has recently hired nine new first responders. “A couple of these are working on their EMT,” Hager said. “That’s what we would like to see them do, progress from first responder to the EMT position. Our biggest goal is to get our numbers of EMTs up. We only have nine, 10 counting myself, and I would like as many as I could get. It would be nice to have 20 EMTs on the service; that would be an absolute dream to have that many. We have the first responders, so our service can respond with a first responder and an EMT instead of having two EMTs in the truck.”
The ambulance service has been driving a new ambulance for the past year. They’ve done a good job of keeping their equipment and technology up-to-date and the chicken barbeque they put on every year helps them to achieve that.
Along with Hager as the new ambulance service director, the city also hired Mary Betz as the assistant director. “With Mary as assistant, that will be great because Mary will be able to do a lot of organizational things that need to be done,” Hager said. Keeping each EMT’s training information up-to-date is important. Records need to be kept for all the education that is required by the state for EMTs. The EMTs must keep up with requirements for license renewal and attend annual training on medications and equipment which must be signed off on by the medical control doctor. “There’s a lot of important stuff that has to be kept up on as far as education and training,” Hager said.
“We’re looking at expanding our training classes too,” Hager added. We will be able to teach the CPR and refresher classes ourselves.” The Caledonia ambulance service would also welcome to the classes ambulance staff from other communities who can’t offer the classes themselves. These classes aren’t always easy to find and offering them right here in Caledonia means less traveling and it’s better for everyone. Joanie Schmidt is working on that part of the duties and Donn is taking care of all of the meetings which occur twice a month.
“The Caledonia Ambulance Service is pretty top notch, as far as I’m concerned, Hager said. “It has been for a long time. Mike has it in a good place and we have good staff. The goal is to keep our staff up good and recruit more.”