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Emergency Medical Services professionals object to the term “ambulance driver”. The education and training required to work as a paramedic can take a full year to achieve and cost in excess of $6000. Additionally, the Sun Prairie paramedics dedicate themselves to serving the community at great personal sacrifice including loss of family time, a job that is inherently dangerous, and considerable physical and mental stresses. The City of Sun Prairie is committed to providing its citizens the highest possible pre-hospital medical care, and so all Sun Prairie EMS employees are state-certified paramedics; many have also earned the distinction of being Nationally Registered Paramedics through the NREMT.
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EMS is an acronym for Emergency Medical Services. The profession was born from the battlefield in the Napoleonic era when Napoleon’s physician Dominque-Jean Larrey used horse-drawn carts as the first “ambulance” to move injured soldiers off of the battlefield to a treatment area. The idea made its way to the United States during the Civil War. In WWI, the United States Army used non-physicians in the trenches to treat casualties; in WWII, these men entered combat and became the corpsmen and medics we know today. In the 1950s, civilian programs began developing and by the mid-1960s, the EMS profession in the United States started to take shape. Click Here for more EMS History
The public should know that we work hard, we train hard, and we are grateful for the privilege of being able to help others in their times of need. And we are human, too. We do this job because it's our choice to be there and help people. If your loved one's heart stops, we will do everything we know how to save them as if they were our own family. If we have to tell you that we can't save them, you should know that we hurt, too. Our job means that we sometimes have to see awful things that most people cannot imagine. Our job means that we miss out on a lot of things with our families. We do this job because we’re smart and strong and we have the mettle it takes, and a simple ‘thank you’ means the world to us.
When approaching law enforcement and other emergency vehicles, tow trucks, road machinery or highway construction or maintenance vehicles (that are stopped on or near a highway and are using flashing emergency lights), you must move into a lane not nearest the stopped vehicle and travel in that lane until you have gone by the stopped vehicle(s). If it is unsafe to move into another lane, slow down until you have passed the stopped vehicle(s).
In EMS, there is no such thing as a lunch or dinner break, and the paramedics must provide their own meals. They are required to be ready to respond at all times during their 24-hour shift, and so each crew will typically try to bring groceries with them at the start of their shift, but when they cannot, they will make a quick trip to the store. Sometimes they might stop by a restaurant if they have not had time to prepare a meal at the station. In order to be judicious with City resources, the crews are diligent to make sure that such a stop coincides with a trip they were already making, such as on the way back from an incident or the hospital.
A Sun Prairie Police Officer (within the City) or a Dane County Sherriff's Deputy might respond before or with the ambulance crew. The Sun Prairie Fire Department might respond to a serious car accident, fire, or carbon monoxide emergency. These additional resources are sent when the information that is provided to the 911 dispatcher suggests that they might be helpful, or necessary in an emergency.
Lights and sirens are only used in emergent situations, which means that the situation is time sensitive, and the transportation needs to be faster than normal. We always try to get to the patient and then to the hospital as quickly and safely as possible, but it's not always necessary to use the lights and sirens. Whether to use our lights and sirens is decided on a case by case basis based on the information that we have available to us either on our way to a call, or after we meet our patient.
Running is risky – if they were to trip and fall, then they would be of no help to the person who needed them, and they would probably become a patient themselves. Running prevents them from surveying a scene thoroughly, and they might overlook a hazard like a protective dog, a weapon in the room, downed power lines, or similar. Running also elevates their own heart rate and respirations, which does not create a sense of calm for their patients, and makes it difficult for them to think clearly and act deliberately.
In most cases, we are able to respect a patient's wishes as to which hospital they would like to go to. If you aren't sure which hospital to go to, the paramedics can help you decide which one may be preferred based on the patient's medical condition and/or any insurance they may have. In some cases, the patient's emergency dictates which hospital we will need go to. For example, serious trauma patients will almost always be transported to UW Hospital because they are the only Level 1 Trauma Center in the area. A woman in labor would be brought to Meriter or St. Mary's since UW doesn't normally treat OB/Gyn patients. If a patient is very sick and needs to be seen and treated by a doctor within minutes, we may take them to St. Mary's Sun Prairie Emergency Center as it is the closest hospital where they can receive stabilizing care before continuing on to their hospital of choice.
When you call 911 simply let the dispatcher know of the special circumstances. Also, completing a File of Life card and keeping it on your refrigerator for each family member can help once the ambulance arrives. For advanced concerns, consider alerting Sun Prairie EMS in advance if your child or loved one lives in the area and has specific needs that will influence how the paramedics care for them. There are several options available for us to ensure that we are aware of you special needs and can respond to it appropriately.
Sun Prairie EMS will provide ambulance transportation to all patients, no matter their medical condition or their ability to pay. Hospital emergency rooms, however, triage patients based on how serious their medical condition is, regardless of how they got there. In some cases, people might take an ambulance to the hospital only to find themselves in the same waiting room they would have entered had they driven their own car.
Locally, the Madison Area Technical College offers paramedic training, and many Sun Prairie EMS paramedics received their training there. Other programs exist around Wisconsin and in neighboring states, and scholarship programs are available (search the internet for the most updated information). If you’d like to get a first-hand look at what it’s like to be a paramedic in Sun Prairie, please contact us and we’ll be glad to give you a tour of the station! Fill out a job interest card here.
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