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scenario and one behind the scenes setting up the heart rate, etc. For example, Gill said it can recreate a heart attack and the EMT can give medical assistance while being monitored by the computer. His performance can be critiqued and if there needs to be changes in his method, the staff can offer advice. “When we started, we worked on each other and then later there was the Annie doll and we were calling, ‘Annie, Annie, are you okay,’” Gill said with a laugh. “This new opportunity is like working with a real patient instead of pretending. Training has come a long way.” Today there are about 26 paid and part-time Yankton residents who form the EMT squad and serve the Yankton area. During a month’s time, the staff mans a tight schedule day in and day out, including serving on call basically one weekend a month or two shifts. A twoman crew, one of which is always a paramedic, is scheduled for a 12hour shift where they remain on site at the EMT Center, completing inventory and work at the Center. There is also a second two-man crew on standby, doing work at home or running errands in town carrying a pager, in case the first crew is on a transfer to a Sioux Falls, Sioux City or Omaha. If an EMT is on call, there are also requirements like having to stay within the city limits. “You would be surprised how often the first and second crews are busy and then a page goes out for any available staff to go on a call,” Gill said. The Yankton EMS have four ambulances in the bay with a crew cab also available. The EMS staff has a schedule where they indicate when they are available, so the final schedule can be made. The shifts run from 7 pm to 7 am and then 7 pm to 7 am. And the EMTs are required to sign up for at least two shifts a month. Turnover does happen on the EMT staff as many volunteers are people interested in getting experience for medical school or a nursing career and then move on. On the flip side, it is increasingly harder to find new volunteers because of the training and responsibility that goes with the job, but the EMS is always accepting applications. Gill is a familiar face around Yankton working fulltime in wholesale pop and beer sales but the EMT position usually doesn’t conflict with his work schedule but does interfere with his free time. “It is quite a change from stocking shelves and I like the diversity and the challenge,” Gill said. “You never know what’s going to happen – for better or worse.” And when the worst happens, what then? In the early 1990s, Gill said EMS recognized the need for some sort of counseling for situations where children were injured, died or family members suffered a tragedy and they started Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) for EMTs and firefighters. Gill said he has participated in several CISD sessions where at least one member of the team felt affected in some way. The team involved in the situation will gather – no one else is allowed. Normally one of the team members who is disturbed will ask for the debriefing but sometimes if there is an especially tragic situation, the EMS will automatically bring the team in to talk about it. There would also be a professional counselor present to talk through what happened. There’s no finger-pointing but individuals can get it out, talk about it and work through the incident, think about it and that helps he said. Several Yankton EMTs are trained for these debriefing sessions and are asked to assist in CISD sessions at other places. Gill has been debriefed himself and also been involved in several debriefings. Typically, Gill said EMTs are more comfortable talking about these serious situations with other EMTs just as firefighters are more comfortable talking with other firefighters. It makes it easier to talk about what happened because other EMTs have been in these types of situations and seen the worst. A camaraderie is felt like what a band of war brothers experience when fighting. Gill said everyone processes life differently and has different perspectives so discussing tragic situations with others involved in similar situations is comforting. In Gill’s early years, he was on the dive team with Water Search and Rescue in the late 1990s. “I enjoy diving but when you dive around here, you can’t see your hand in front of your face, but I did do the training and was involved in dragging for bodies,” Gill said. There is a Search and Rescue team that has taken over those situations in the last 10 years but there was a time when there wasn’t organized Search and Rescue and Gill said he was involved in some searches which were done with a small group of volunteers. Essentially, Gill said in all these types of emergency situations, one finds himself working with basically the same group of people involved in service organizations. They participate in mock drills together and training sessions, planning for a variety of disaster situations, natural and man-made, where they are all needed at the same time. “I like the teamwork which comes from working with others,” Gill vGILL continued on page 13 Willcockson Eye Associates, P .C. Quality Eye Care, Close To Home • Best quality medical and surgical eyecare for you and your family • State of the art cataract surgery • Expert treatment of diseases such as glaucoma, eye complications from diabetes, and macular degeneration • Extensive selection of frames, styles and lens options at The Spectacle Shop, LLC. 415 W. 3rd, Yankton The Spectacle Shop, L.L.C. Call 605-665-9638 Karen E Dickes, D.O. Board Certified Ophthalmologist Medical and Surgical Eye Care Brady W. Betten, O.D. 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