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The reader board at Aero Methow Rescue Service celebrated recent EMT and EMR certifications. Photo by Don Nelson

Two Aero Methow Rescue Service volunteers have been newly certified as emergency medical responders (EMR) and a third has achieved the level of emergency medical technician (EMT).

Kimon Roe and Ken Ruprecht, both of Twisp, began an EMR training program with Aero Methow in November and have passed the National Registry Exam for EMR certification. The three-month course includes online, text and workbook study, integrated with lecture and practical skills training.

Two other students, Emily Knox and Aaryn Peterson, took the EMR course at the same time and plan to take their exams later this month, according to Cindy Button, director of services at Aero Methow.

Meghan Sullivan of Winthrop was the sole student in the EMT course that began in January, and passed the National Registry EMT Exam in March. Sullivan received her EMR certification through Aero Methow in 2013.

The coursework and exams are recognized nationwide, but each state maintains its own certification system, Button said.

After volunteers achieve the EMR certification, “we give them a year to gain volunteer hours and decide if they want to go on” to the next level of training, Button said. She expects six students who have trained in the last year to begin an EMT course in the fall of 2014. The EMR course should be offered again in 2015, she said.

Two Aero Methow EMTs, Ruth Payne and Kathleen Calvin, are currently in the advanced EMT program and plan to take that examination in July, Button said.

On emergency calls, EMRs can attend to the patient on scene and in the back of the ambulance alongside an EMT or paramedic. When they have successfully completed driver training with Aero Methow, they can also be responsible for driving the ambulance.

EMTs have more medical training and can administer certain treatments. An EMT is able to ride alone in the back of the ambulance and tend to a stable patient’s needs on the way to the hospital.

In addition to maintaining their credentials, Aero Methow volunteers must be available for four 12-hour on-call shifts per month, according to Aero Methow’s website. When on call, volunteers must be five minutes from the Twisp, Winthrop or Mazama stations.

There are some commonalities among people who go into emergency medical service, Button observed.

“They all say that it’s something they’ve been interested in their whole life, have thought about for a long time, and now is finally the right time to do it,” she said. For some, the time is right because their children have grown up and left home.

Everyone going into EMR training says they want to challenge themselves and be more deeply involved in their community, Button said.

New EMT Meghan Sullivan said she had many occasions to call Aero Methow when she was operating the Rocking Horse Ranch in Mazama, and had always admired the first responders and their professionalism.

She was inspired to sign up for her first EMR course a year ago when she noticed an appeal for volunteers on the reader board outside Aero Methow’s headquarters in Twisp. “I thought, I really like these people and I’d like to be a part of this,” Sullivan said.

She has been an Aero Methow volunteer ever since.

Sullivan sees this as a potential career path, and hopes to become a paramedic some day. “At this point I want to practice my skills and see how I do this next year,” she said. “I really, truly love it.”

Aero Methow Rescue Service also provides emergency medical education to the U.S. Forest Service and law enforcement and fire agencies. In addition, it provides American Heart Association courses such as Advanced Cardiac Life Support to medical providers.

Community and workplace CPR and first aid courses are offered throughout the year. For schedules and more information go to www.aeromethow.org or call Aero Methow at 997-4013.