Chelan, WA – Saving lives when seconds count is all in a day’s work for Lake Chelan Hospital’s Emergency Medical Services caregivers. The team’s hard work and dedication to the community was celebrated at the annual EMS banquet Feb. 2 at the Chelan Senior Center. “Tonight we celebrate where we have been and get excited about where we are going,” said EMS director Ray Eickmeyer.
Local EMS service started in 1972, after the spouse of Great Griffith, Chelan, was killed a tragic motor vehicle accident. Griffith and a group of volunteers started EMS classes and helped form the Lake Chelan Valley Ambulance system, which is now part of the local hospital.
In 2018, LCCHC EMS answered a record number of response calls, almost 1,500, said Eickmeyer. “We have become a better team,” he continued, “more compassionate and community focused. The proof? We have received more thank you letters and phone calls of appreciation than in the last five years combined.”
Brad Hankins, RN, Lake Chelan Clinic administrator, and Jill Thompson, RN, received the 2018 Edward J. Armbruster Award for their foresight and vision to make a healthier community, from integrated behavior / mental health to the soon-to-be-launched community paramedicine program. Only one percent of the nation has access to this type of service, explained Eickmeyer. Hankins was one of the early EMTs in the valley and has worked in local healthcare for almost 30 years.
Steve Patonai, LCCHC CEO, awarded the 2018 Administrator’s Award to Raynor Baker for constant dedication and service. Raynor has been a fulltime employee for 11 years, taking on the major role of CPR program coordinator. Raynor is a senior EMT instructor and has served with great passion and performance, said Eickmeyer.
The Director’s Award for sacrifices above and beyond the call of duty was presented to Dr. Lance Jobe. Jobe has served over 20 years, said Eickmeyer, and has unified over 23 different organizations in Chelan and Douglas counties to regionally provide the best out-of-hospital cardiac arrest rates in the country.
Rachel McCall was chosen by her EMS peers and recognized as the 2018 Personnel of the Year. McCall was described as “the hardest worker with the best attitude,” “the most encouraging co-worker I know,” “team player,” and “outstanding addition to the team.”
Eleven providers received save pins for CPR saves of patients. Five caregivers were recognized for delivering babies. Rachel McCall, Mark Schram, Greg Moser and Brandon Fogelson were recognized with first-year pins, Jared Eygabroad received his 10-year pin, and James Ashmore, Rinita Cook, Christina Eickmeyer and Ken Young earned 20-year pins. Mark Courtney of Stehekin was honored for 34 years of service as an EMT, most often as a volunteer. He is the only EMT in Stehekin.
At the conclusion of the banquet, Eickmeyer looked to the future. The ambulance organization was born out a need for rescue, and while there is still that need in 2019, he said, there is also a need for prevention and proactivity. “My vision is to show the community that they can have an EMS system that responds to them in a new, meaningful way, both as rescuers and as partners in prevention.”
Quoting Margaret Mead, he continued, “‘Never doubt that a small group of committed, thoughtful people can change the world, indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.’”