Rural EMS trains for longer transports
A quick ambulance ride to the hospital is common for those living in bigger cities, but for many in rural Illinois, the trip might be longer than expected.
Usually a patient that is transported in the back of an ambulance can take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes, but for rural EMS in Beardstown, they can spend anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour in the back of this ambulance.
“Anytime you are talking about emergency medicine, time is muscle,” Beardstown Fire Department Chief Brian Becker said. “Time is brain function."
Beardstown Ambulance is the only one providing medical services to all of Cass County which includes more than 13,000 residents.
“It gets you experience,” Beardstown paramedic Steven Chase said. “The rural EMS is a lot different than being inside the city where you are five minutes away from a hospital."
Depending on the call, the patient will be transported to Culbertson Memorial Hospital in Rushville.
When it’s a broken bone, they will be transported 30 minutes away to Jacksonville.
"But if it’s a heart attack, we try to get them to a cardiac Cath Lab over in Springfield and our guys have to really know their job," Becker said.
In October, the ambulance service responded to 80 calls total.
Out of those, 19 were transported to Memorial Medical Center in Springfield.
Eleven were transported to HSHS St. John’s hospital.
"We can get there in roughly 45 to 40 minutes, give or take depending," Becker said.
Which means that in the month of October alone, the paramedics drove close to 45 hours to and from a Springfield hospital.
"If something changes or the patient's condition worsens, you may have to start an additional IV,” Becker said.
Officials said there is one thing that is key to a successful rural EMS service.
"Training is a very big factor in this," Chase said.
"That is the hub of our whole job, is to be up to date on our training if we fall behind a little, but that could mean someone else's livelihood that could mean their life," Becker said.
At least once a month, the Beardstown ambulance services brush up on different trainings to ensure that patients make it safely to the hospital.
The Beardstown ambulance service has two stations, one in Beardstown and a second in Virginia.