By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, MN After helplessly watching a man die of a heart attack more than 30 years ago, Jim Stifter of Winsted was determined to learn what to do in emergencies and he’s been saving lives ever since.
He initially planned to just take a CPR class, but became a certified emergency medical technician (EMT) instead.
“It’s nice to know you have that training,” said Stifter, who is a plant manager at Millerbernd Manufacturing.
Stifter urges Winsted and Lester Prairie residents who’d like to become an EMT to take part in a special training course through Ridgeview Medical Center.
“This is the first time we’ve done this kind of recruitment,” said paramedic Greg Davidson of Winsted.
Applicants are encouraged to register by Monday, March 18. Training begins Tuesday, March 26, and includes a total of 28 sessions, with eight hours of class each week.
“If you’re interested in helping the community, don’t be afraid to try it,” Stifter said. “A lot of people don’t think they can handle it, but you’ll be trained for it.”
“You always have someone with you who is experienced, and they can go over everything with you afterward to help you feel more comfortable,” added Kaila Parrott of Lester Prairie, who has been an EMT with Ridgeview for about 1.5 years.
Currently, 11 Ridgeview EMTs volunteer in the Winsted/Lester Prairie area. Ridgeview hopes to double that number to 22.
“Having local EMTs enables quicker response time to residents in emergency situations,” noted Deb Van Houtte of Ridgeview.
Although EMTs are prepared to handle emergencies of all severities, the majority of calls are not high stress, according to Stifter.
“That’s one of the myths people have,” added Lisa Steinbauer of Ridgeview. “They think every call is that auto crash that tragedy.”
Oftentimes, routine calls (such as seizures, falls, or chest pains) may seem scary for the untrained, but EMTs are fully capable of handling these situations effectively.
“On all our calls, we also have help from the first responders and the police department,” Stifter added.
Stifter and Parrott both describe being an EMT as “very rewarding.”
“I’d love to stay on as long as I can. I want to keep learning and gaining more experience, so it becomes second nature,” Parrott said.
Parrott served as an EMT and medic in the Army after graduating from high school six years ago, and now works in phlebotomy at Park Nicollet in Chanhassen.
“I’ve always been interested in the medical field,” she said.
For Stifter, serving as an EMT is a way to help people in his community.
“In a small town, it could be someone you know, or even a family member,” Stifter said. “You do what you’re trained to do you can be nervous later.”
One happy call he remembers involved helping a pregnant woman, who delivered her baby five minutes after they arrived at the hospital.
“The memorable part was that I saw her at a function later on, and she introduced me to her child and thanked me. That was nice,” Stifter said.
Stifter also remembers his first call saving a man’s life with an automated external defibrillator (AED) in the 1980s.
“Back in those days, a defibrillator was not a common piece of equipment for an ambulance to have,” Davidson said.
Stifter often takes several EMT shifts per week, but only three per month are required to maintain active status. A person is typically on call for 12 hours, but scheduling is flexible.
To get started with training, contact Ridgeview Ambulance Director Darel Radde at (952) 442-2191 ext. 5580.
“The main thing is that what you do makes a difference,” Stifter said. “It’s an opportunity to save a life.”
Sign up today!
What: EMT training
Who: Winsted and Lester Prairie residents ages 21 and over
When: The first class will take place Tuesday, March 26.
Why: Ridgeview Medical Center is hoping to double the number of EMTs in Winsted and Lester Prairie
Cost: Training is $1,175, but for this session only, Ridgeview will pay $975, so the student only pays $200.
More info: EMT compensation is based on experience. To learn more or to register for the training, contact Ridgeview Ambulance Director Darel Radde at (952) 442-2191 ext. 5580.