Last year, Poynette’s volunteer emergency medical services department was focused on getting things back in order after leadership changes and the threat of disbanding loomed in 2018. After concentrating on culture and equipment in 2019, this year’s focus is community outreach, according to EMS Captain Desiree Heimbecker.
“We want to be seen more than when people have to call 911,” Heimbecker said. “This year is more about community.”
With that goal in mind, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) from the Poynette Dekorra Fire and EMS Department will be hosting community vital checks monthly. During the events, individuals can have their blood pressure, oxygen saturation and blood glucose levels checked.
“We want to be partners in health and help identify issues before they become life-threatening,” Heimbecker said. “We can’t give them medical advice, but we can say, ‘Hey, this is not a normal number.’”
While the EMTs cannot give specific instructions to people who may have a high blood pressure reading or blood sugar level out of the normal range, the vital checks will simply allow them to tell individuals if their numbers are abnormal and recommend they seek help from a doctor.
Holding the events monthly will also allow people to track their numbers and become aware of any patterns or potential issues. Heimbecker said the department created a spreadsheet for residents to take with them and bring back each time to record their data.
The first community vital checks event will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 3-5 p.m. at the Poynette Dekorra Fire and EMS Station, 606 Water Tower Road. Heimbecker said the department plans to host the future events on the fourth Wednesday of each month. There will be five to six EMTs there ready to perform the screenings.
Additionally, for those who aren’t able to get to the station due to limited mobility, Heimbecker said they can call the department to set up a time separately.
“We want to be another resource for people and give them another opportunity to be more health-aware,” Heimbecker said.
In early March, the EMS department is partnering with Arlington EMS and Inspire Wellness Poynette to hold another event for residents – a community CPR class. According to Heimbecker, the free, hour-long session will focus on hands-on training, with attendees learning how to perform chest compressions and use an AED. While participants will not get a certification from the class, Heimbecker said it’s crucial for people to know how to begin chest compressions in an emergency situation.
“It can typically take an ambulance 10 minutes, sometimes longer, to get there,” Heimbecker said. “Getting that chest compression started is key for the patient to survive. Bystanders are super important.”
The class will be held March 7, from 9-10 a.m. RSVPs are required, to help the department gauge interest and have enough staff on hand. If more than 15 to 20 people sign up, Heimbecker said they will consider hosting a second session from 10:30-11:30 a.m.
For more information about the monthly vital checks or community CPR class, call the station at (608) 635-2151 or email firstname.lastname@example.org