By Gina Smith
April 18, 2012
Church services were just wrapping up one spring Sunday afternoon for the Smith Family. A faint ambulance pager is heard and emergency medical technician (EMT) Ann Smith leans down to hear without disrupting the service. Services wrap up and the family sits anxiously waiting while Ann calls in to see what is needed and offer her support.
This is the life of an EMT in Lincoln County. Smith has been in this capacity for 21 years. After two years as a beginner she became certified as an intermediate EMT and has served in that capacity ever since. She also has been an EMT instructor for approximately 14 years.
“I had been interested in first aid for many years and when the class was offered I decided to take it,” Smith said. “There was not an ambulance in [Caliente] at that time and a neighbor had to wait a while for the ambulance from Panaca to arrive. I was glad to be able to have one in town after our class was licensed.”
Ambulance Administrator Melissa Rowe stated the community has been blessed by Smith’s service. “Ann has long time been the glue that holds our group together,” she said.
Ann’s pride in her work comes from within. “I still enjoy helping people and maybe make their bad time a little better. I’m glad to have the skills to be of a help to others.”
There are many in our community who use their medical knowledge and skills to help others. Lincoln County EMT services are part of the Grover C. Dills Medical Center (GCDMC) in Caliente. There are 13 active EMT personnel serving the north side of Lincoln County and 12 serving the south. The EMTs provide basic life support to not only the local residents but also those traveling through who suffer accidents. EMTs in the county also transport individuals needing a higher level of care to Cedar City, St. George or Las Vegas.
Caliente obtained a new ambulance in 2011. There are hopes to add a new ambulance in Pioche in the next couple of years. GCDMC maintains strong working relationships with Mercy Air of Las Vegas and Life Flight of Arizona and, most recently, Dixie Flight for Life, which just added a helicopter to the ambulance services and has the ability to use a fixed wing air plane out of Ely and St. George as well.
“Our volunteers have been praised by flight crews and doctors and nurses from facilities that we have transferred to for higher levels of care,” Rowe said. “We have received letters commending our EMTs for their quick response and skills that have been attributed to saving people’s lives.”
EMT services are just part of the medical services offered in Lincoln County.
GCDMC is a 20 bed facility, with 16 long term beds and four acute. Five beds are designated as swing beds, which are used for rehab patients. The hospital has planned to put in a rehabilitation building, which will allow the community to keep more patients here rather than send them to St. George or Las Vegas for care. The medical center will be working closely with Lincoln Physical Therapy to make this happen.
The medical center will also see a bit of a makeover in the next few months, with a fresh paint job in the hallways, new pictures taken by local artists hung and a complete remodel of the acute rooms.
Currently the hospital provides laboratory services which include phlebotomy services. Radiology does include CT but no MRI at this time. An ultrasound technician, George Drenes, comes in to the facility every other week from Las Vegas. GCDMC also has a licensed social worker on staff, Sandy Hulse, which is something that many similar facilities do not have. The medical center now has a licensed activities director, Jerralyn Smith, who works with the residents and plans all of facility’s events throughout the year.
There are more plans for growth. About a year ago, land was purchased from the State of Nevada. Currently there is a home on the property that is used to house traveling nurses and anyone else that comes to the facility to provide services. The future plans for the land are to build a new facility with the intention of keeping the long term care and rehab services separate from the emergency room and acute rooms. The date to break ground is still pending.
GCDMC hosts a “Health and Wellness Fair” every year. This year’s fair will be held this Saturday. The public will be able to tour rescue helicopters, ambulances and tap the vast knowledge of the GCDMC staff.
The facility offers a wellness program where participants track their steps or minutes of exercise every day and report for six weeks at a time. The wellness team recently hosted a “Walk with a Doc” event where participants enjoy the new Caliente walking path with hospital staff, doctors and board members.