Dakota Responders Help Rural Areas

Dakota Responders Help Rural Areas

Dr And Attendees

Dr. Matt Owens trains Agtegra employees. Photo courtesy of Beth Locken at Agtegra. 

Agtegra and the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine are teaming up to provide first responder training to about 100 Agtegra employees. From that pool, approximately 30% will move on to EMT training. Training was conducted in January and February of this year and included Stop the Bleed, Narcan use for Opioid Overdose, and AED Operation topics. Employees who attended training will receive ‘ditch kits’ with supplies to provide basic first aid and stop-the-bleed materials. 

Director of Safety and Environmental Beth Locken mentioned that studies have found a critical shortage of first responders and EMS services in rural communities. Dr. Matt Owens of Redfield Community Memorial Hospital chose Agtegra to partner with. Dr. Owens was looking for a partner that had a significant impact in rural areas. Agtegra was a natural fit thanks to the amount of mobile equipment and employees that work in rural communities on a daily basis. Funding for this initiative was available under a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant through the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine in Vermillion. 

“The Sanford School of Medicine makes it a priority to train medical doctors to practice in rural South Dakota,” Locken said, “so this is a natural extension of that mission.” 

The grant made it possible to provide first responder training to individuals in communities who could come across an emergency situation to be able to provide basic life-saving skills until first responders at the scene. From that, the concept of ‘Dakota Responder’ was developed. 

“Most first responders in rural communities are volunteers who have careers and other obligations that are not always near the ambulance station when a call is received,” Locken said. “By having individuals in the communities trained in basic life-saving techniques, this significantly improves a victim’s chance of survival.” 

“Agtegra is extremely grateful to be a partner for this initiative. Our employees, families, member-owners, and patrons are all individuals who could one day benefit from the skills of a Dakota Responder.” //—Annie Scott