Since its inception in 1944, West River Ambulance Service (WRAS) has been an innovator in rural emergency medicine. Our volunteers were the first in North Dakota to receive formalized training back in 1968. In 1987, West River was the first volunteer service in the state to employee a full-time paramedic and thus provide Advanced Life Support (ALS) to the area. Currently we are Basic Life Support (BLS) service with ALS capabilities licensed in both North and South Dakota.
We are a unique hospital-based volunteer service, with an average 265 calls per year. Our service area is considered "Frontier" and covers 2,500 square miles and several counties. Several First Responders are scattered throughout our service area providing quicker access to care. The majority of our service area is covered by 911 dispatches in either North or South Dakota, In addition to local responses; we frequently transport patients to Bismarck and Rapid City hospitals for advanced medical care or advanced procedures not available at West River Regional Medical Center, such as cardiac catheterization or high-risk obstetric patients. We have, however, traveled as far as Watertown, SD, Billings, MT, and Minneapolis and Rochester, MN.
At present, we have one full-time paramedic, four part-time paramedics, seven EMT-B's, two North Dakota First Responders, and four CPR-certified drivers. Within that multi-talented group, three are certified CPR instructors, eight are advanced cardiac life support personnel, and one is an EMS instructor. Our staff and volunteers bring to the table a combined total of 132 years dedicated to emergency medical services!
In addition to providing outstanding emergency medical care to our communities, we are proud to offer public and private First Aid and CPR classes, First Responder, EMT Basic, as well as Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support and Pre-hospital Trauma Life Support classes.
Further emphasizing our commitment to community health and safety, WRAS holds many events throughout the year, which are free to the public. Shelly's Safety Day has become a favorite among 4- to 8-year-old children and their parents, covering such topics as bicycle safety, water safety, fire safety, stranger danger, and poisoning, to name just a few. We also hold several car seat safety checks throughout the year to help keep even the tiniest members of our community safe!
West River Ambulance Service and its members hold a long list of awards both past and present, including five North Dakota EMS Provider of the Year recipients, three EMS Service of the Year, four Southwest Region Squad of the Year, two Distinguished Service, three Instructor/Coordinator of the year, two Outstanding Rural Health Volunteer, one Outstanding NDEMS Test Team Member, one Medical Director of the Year, one Medial Association Friend of Medicine, two Media, one Advance Life Support Achievement, two NREMT Achievement, one Small Town Hero, one Youth Employee of the Year, two Southwest Siren, and three Star of Life recipients.
Our volunteers reflect the spirit of southwest North Dakota with sincere pride, professionalism, and a"git ER done" attitude. They are a dedicated cross-section representing business, agriculture, education and healthcare. Many of our members are long time volunteers with five, ten, twenty years and more of caring for friends and neighbors in their hour of need. Our commitment to a five-minute call-to-en route time speaks to the sacrifices family members of these providers have made as well.