Ray Ellis Memorial Volunteer Ambulance Corps members pictured include (from left): Mike Reaves, Becky Wilson, Pete Smith, Britni Duncan, and Rich Winters.
Forks’ Ray Ellis Memorial Volunteer Ambulance Corps is quite remarkable. Only three towns in all of the state have a volunteer ambulance corps. The local ambulance corps is under the Forks Community Hospital umbrella, separate from the local Clallam County Fire Department District.
Forks Community Hospital Director of Emergency Services is Becky Wilson. Wilson is married and a mother of four children, she is also a state certified EMT-B. What she finds most fulfilling as an EMT-B is helping others. Wilson lost both her parents at an early age. Her father’s death was sudden and unexpected. The EMTs who responded to that call comforted Wilson and stayed with her during the chaos of that tragedy. It left a lifelong impression. Now, she can provide that support for families in crisis.
“The ambulance crew, we become like family, because when you go through something really horrible together, you kinda lean on each other,” Wilson said.
The ambulance corps responds to about 700 calls a year, with most being minor medical/trauma calls such as difficulty in breathing, although 2010 saw many vehicle collisions
Local ambulance corps members can gain up to four levels of certification from EMT to Paramedic. EMT-Basic, EMT-IV, EMT-Intermediate, and Paramedic. Each level gives the emergency responder greater responsibilities. The corps currently has one paramedic on staff. All levels can be taught in Forks, except the paramedic training.
“Because we are rural, we get to see things that EMTs in big cities don’t ever get to see…absolutely, we take care of everything,” she said.
EMT-Bs are allowed to do a variety of work, including deliver babies, CPR, basic wound care, splinting/traction of broken bones, administering activated charcoal and epi-injections, and transport to hospitals outside of Forks. Although, the fundamental duty is to get the patient stabilized and to the hospital as fast as possible.
“It takes a special kind of person to do it…” Wilson says with a chuckle.
Initially, Wilson didn’t think she had the temperament to be an EMT, but she loves to help people (and wanted to know what was going on in the community), and decided to take the classes with a friend. In doing so, Wilson found her calling.
The 2011 EMT-B Certification class starts this month. The classes run four hours, twice a week, for six months. After three months, students are allowed to go on ride-alongs on real calls. At the end of six months, there is written and practical testing for certification. The $215.00 class fee is returned if the student passes and works as a volunteer EMT-B for at least six months with the corps. The Ray Ellis Memorial Volunteer Ambulance Corp is looking for a few good recruits. The class still has openings, anyone interested should contact Wilson at 374.6271 ext. 125, or send an email to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.