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Paramedics essential to Traer Ambulance

November 16, 2018
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

Traer continues to reap the benefits of a local ambulance service with a group of volunteers and licensed paramedics on board, including part-time paramedic Dustin Stucker with the service.

Stucker previously worked in Marshalltown as a paramedic, now splitting his time between Traer and North Benton Ambulance Services. He originally took EMT classes in high school and then got his paramedic license at Mercy College in Des Moines years before coming to town five months ago as a part-time paramedic.

"My dad was a paramedic for 35 years, so I grew up around it," Stucker said. "To become a paraemdic, you first have to be an EMT, which takes several months to be certified. My program was little over a year with 400 hours in hospitals to learn skills and then about the same amount of time riding with ambulance services. You then have certified by the National Registry and finally the State of Iowa. Of course, you also have to do continuing education classes every two years."

Article Photos

Traer Ambulance Paramedic Dustin Stucker with one of the service’s two ambulances. Stucker has been with the service for five months.

Stucker's duties as a part-time paramedic include checking the ambulances to ensure they are ready in case of an emergency, filling out paperwork, coordinate with volunteers on the service, restock needed material and provide medical attention while on calls.

"A lot of people still believe we just show up in an ambulance and drive them off really fast to the hospital, but that has been gone for many years," Stucker said. "The amount of care paramedics can provide is on par with what the ER can do. We spend time figuring out what's wrong and then work to remedy the situation before we head to the hospital. Older citizens don't understand this because it has changed over the years."

Many scenarios can play out in an emergency situation. With the end of harvest in sight, one situation possible may be a farmer spraining or breaking their ankle while in the field. Rather than wait for medical attention at the hospital, Stucker and members of the Traer Ambulance Service are able to arrive on location to assist.

"First, we're going to try to figure out how they got injured and if a separate medical problem caused them to get injured," Stucker said. "If they have a sprain or a broken bone, we can splint that and give them pain medication to get them comfortable. If someone is pain, we can show up on site, start that medication and then move him somewhere safer and more comfortable."

As state legislators in Des Moines debate over how to categorize ambulance services across the State and services struggle to maintain enough volunteers, Stucker hopes to see the Traer City Council continue to support the service. According to Stucker and Shaun Kennedy, the Traer Ambulance Director, many small towns across Iowa rely on services from larger, nearby communities to provide medical services, but the extra wait time could be the case between life or death in some dire situations.

"The consequences of losing the ambulance service would be disastorous for this community, but also the North Tama County area," Stucker said. "A lot of times, we might have the only paramedic available up in this half of the county, so we can help other towns as we are needed. Residents could go from having a highly-trained ambulance service showing up in minutes to waiting for Tama/Toledo, maybe Waterloo for 15-30 minutes."

Both paramedics hope state legislators will come to a decision which benefits services like Traer's, and will continue to provide the best service possible to residents and nearby towns that may call for their help.

"I like the City of Traer because it's a town similar in size to where I grew up," Stucker said. "Shaun and I both come from working in Marshalltown, where its a different enviornment. I like working with the volunteers. I don't think the people of Traer realize how fortunate they are to have this service a priority. There's lots of towns in Iowa that rely on other cities further away for ambulance services, but the City wants there to be a service here."

Anyone interested in learning more about Traer Ambulance Services and what they can do to help can contact Shawn Kennedy at (319) 478-2084.



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