County, LifeTeamcombine for first continuing-ed day

LifeTeam and Marion County Emergency Medical Services offered a day of continuing education and recognition for county personnel on Saturday.

More than two years ago, Marion County began a partnership with LifeTeam, an emergency air transport service, through developing an early activation collaboration.

Mike Johnson, program director of LifeTeam, said, “We work really close with Marion EMS and the communications center so the dispatcher has full authority to launch any aircraft they deem necessary by a set of criteria we all agreed upon.

“We are creating a system to assist counties, like Marion, in transporting critical patients.”

By joining forces with LifeTeam, Marion County EMS is able to send all their resources to an accident at the same time, saving crucial time.

“What we’re doing is saving about three hours for those injured to get to a trauma center,” said Johnson, who has been with LifeTeam since its conception 41/2 years ago.

“I don’t think people realize it is not just an ambulance sitting in a barn or a fire truck sitting in a station,” he added. “What makes the whole thing work is the people who get up in the night and still go to work the next day.”

Services like LifeTeam are an extension of what the first-response teams do, Johnson said.

LifeTeam has helicopters based in Emporia and Hutchinson, fixed-wing aircraft in Great Bend and Liberal and ground services in Great Bend and Wichita.

LifeTeam serves 80 EMS agencies throughout Kansas as well as two other states.

“What we’re doing is not necessarily putting this on, but helping with the coordination,” Johnson said of Saturday’s event that provided area emergency personnel with an opportunity to hone their knowledge and skills.

This was the first event of its type in Marion County and the second one LifeTeam has organized.

Johnson said the first day-long event, held in McPherson County, “was a great success, like today’s.”

A similar event will be held in Reno County in April.

About 100 county workers preregistered for the event. Participants used the day of seminars and workshops toward earning required continuing-education credit hours.

“I think of these days of continuing education credit hours for free as something that they need by the state,” said Johnson. “They don’t have to pay for it and it is an opportunity to get up to speed on some hot topics.”

Karen Larson, a member of the Peabody ambulance crew, and Clay Cox, early activation coordinator for LifeTeam, organized the day and contacted local EMS professionals to present relevant topics.

“In the morning they chose topics to fit a broad array of service areas, from law enforcement to fire to EMS to communications, and then in the afternoon we wanted to make it a little more defined,” Johnson said of the day’s schedule.

Five hour-long general sessions were presented through the morning and early afternoon, covering such topics as “Through a Coroner’s Eyes,” presented by JoAnn Knaak, paramedic deputy coroner of Marion County, “Landing Zone/Early Activation” by Cox, and “Coop Rescues,” by John Ricker, safety director of Midwest Kansas Coop.

“One of the things that is a hallmark of the company is our commitment to education,” Johnson said. “There is no better way to affect total patient care than by sharing your experiences and bringing that level of care up just a notch.”

“Bringing in great speakers, like JoAnn Knaak who lives right here, does that.”

In the afternoon, breakout sessions included a rope rescue demonstration. A workshop on airways accompanied by a pig lab were available for participants to chose from to learn more in a specific area of their choice.

 The day was not just about furthering education, though. Made possible by the donations of local businesses, the day also included recognition and appreciation.

“The opportunity for the county to say thanks for all the volunteerism and the teamwork that goes on is really important,” Johnson said.

“For a group of people, that’s a thankless job and they do it for the right reason.”

Door prizes, donated by county businesses, were given away throughout the day.

“It’s amazing how much a small token of appreciation goes a long ways,” Johnson said.

Six lucky attendees were given a ride circling Hillsboro in one of LifeTeam’s helicopters.

Refreshments were provided by McDonald’s, while lunch was sponsored by Markley Service Inc. Towing and Recovery.

“It lets us all know Marion County cares,” Larson said.

Concluding the day was a banquet and dance sponsored by the Marion County Board of Commissioners.

“They are paying for a free meal for everyone and their spouse tonight,” said Johnson. “There’s recognition right there.”

For the future, LifeTeam would like to continue to serve Marion County in this capacity.

“We’d like to turn this into an annual event that people can count on the date,” said Johnson. “We can get a lot more people here and just have an opportunity to say thanks.

“Marion County has a lot of good stuff going for it as far as emergency-care services,” he added. “They have something to be real proud of.”

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