Two local Emergency Medical Technicians fighting wild fires
Jerod Blomberg and Sherri McDougal, both Advanced Emergency Medical Technicians (AEMT) with Taylor County Ambulance Service, Rib Lake Unit, recently reported for duty to assist fire-fighting efforts out west.
Blomberg, who has been a firefighter-paramedic (FFmedic) in California for over 20 years, joined the Taylor County Ambulance Service, Rib Lake Unit, as an Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT) in 2017. Currently, Blomberg is in California with a Structure Defense Unit battling fires, protecting homes and other structures, and providing emergency medical care for his unit and any civilians still in the area in need of medical assistance. Blomberg sent videos to the Rib Lake Unit that show a small portion of what his unit is doing to battle these blazes. Those videos can be viewed on the Rib Lake Emergency Medical Services Facebook page. Usually, Blomberg splits his time between his California unit and his home in Wisconsin, where he covers four to six shifts a month with the Rib Lake Unit. Blomberg was recalled to his California unit in mid-September.
McDougal has been with the Rib Lake Unit since obtaining her National EMT license in 2009. In 2011, she obtained her Wisconsin AEMT license. McDougal covers three 24-hour shifts per week, which also includes 72 hours of coverage one weekend a month. When she is not providing emergency medical care to the residents of the Rib Lake coverage area, she runs her own business from home.
McDougal certified as a Wildlands Medic with the U.S. Forest Service 10 years ago and undergoes annual recertifi cation. Over the years, McDougal has been deployed to various wildfire locations around the U.S. to provide emergency medical care for fire units. Currently, Mc-Dougal is with a Heavy Equipment Unit fighting the Lion’s Head fires in Oregon. Internet access and cell signal are very sporadic where she is, but she was able to get a few pictures through to the Rib Lake Unit. Those pictures are posted on the Unit’s Facebook page.
The Taylor County Ambulance Service, Rib Lake Unit, has 17 crew members on their roster, of which, two EMTs, seven AEMTs (including Jerod and Sherri) and five drivers are active. These 14 dedicated people provide 24/7 ambulance coverage for the Village of Rib Lake and surrounding areas, including parts of southern Price County, rarely needing coverage assistance from the Medford or Gilman units. The Rib Lake unit has one full-time AEMT (included in the 14) on staff. Nearly all of the other members of this unit work other full-time jobs, and schedule their EMS hours around their jobs and families. When Blomberg and McDougal get deployed to fight fires, the rest of the unit takes it in stride, juggle their personal schedules and cover the shifts, to ensure that the Rib Lake coverage area has a fully staffed ambulance around the clock.
To all Emergency Medical Service providers, but especially to Jerod, Sherri and the Rib Lake unit, thank you, stay safe, and know that your commitment to your communities, your dedication to your units, and your sacrifices and selflessness have not gone unnoticed.