Hanson steps into new role as ambulance director
-Sandy Bond -
Charles (Chuck) Hanson, after spending the last last 10 years serving his community in various positions, has taken over as manager of the Mobridge Ambulance Service. Serving a 30-mile radius, Mobridge Ambulance responds to 700 plus emergency calls each year.
Hanson has been an EMT for Selby and Mobridge Ambulances after serving as a volunteer firefighter in Java and Selby. This spring he assumed the role as Ambulance Director, replacing Diane Dekker, Rapid City, and Interim Director Shannon Stuwe.
The son of the late Edna and Clarence Hanson, Chuck grew up in Mentor, Minn., graduating from Mentor High School. He attended Thief River Falls Technical College, majoring in auto body repair and opened his own business. He and his wife Sandy were married in 1974.
Sandy received a degree as a licensed practical nurse from Aassiz Valley School of Nursing, Crookston, Minn.
Chuck, Sandy and son Justinbecame beekeepers before purchasing Selby Honey in Java. After selling Selby Honey in 1992, Chuck served as a dispatcher for Thorstenson Trucking for many years before his successful run for Walworth County Treasurer. He was beginning his third term when he accepted the opportunity he couldn’t refuse. Sandy is employed by the Selby Good Samaritan Center and serves as an EMT as well. Justin died early this spring and wife Brandy and grandchildren, Dylan, 15, and Austin, 12, live in Eureka.
This year an estimated 1.4 million people will suffer a heart attack, Hanson said.
Heart disease is the number one killer in South Dakota and nationwide. Only 30 percent of individuals in cardiac arrest will ever receive CPR before the ambulance arrives. With every five minutes that goes by without CPR, it reduces the individual’s chance of survival by 10 percent.
There are several stages leading to EMT training,” Chuck said. “Replacing what was originally First Responder, EMR, which many members of law enforcement hold, requires approximately 80 hours of training. EMT Basic requires 160 hours; Advanced EMT requires 184 hours, and Paramedic requires a two-year associates degree through an accredited technical college.”
“It’s been proven,” he said, “that the best time to learn CPR and retain it is in the fifth grade.”
The new CPR technique, continuous chest compression rather than mouth-to-mouth, is the biggest shift in emergency care of cardiac arrest in over 40 years, he said. Studies have proven that many people are reluctant to do mouth-to-mouth because of the, albeit unlikely, possibility of contracting a disease or are unable to understand the conventional technique.
Continuous chest compression involves pushing down repeatedly on the victim’s chest to mimic a steady heartbeat without mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing. Pushing the breastbone down about two inches (one third to one half the depth of the chest for children) and then releasing it, even untrained bystanders, the ones most likely to reach victims in the first critical minutes, are saving lives. The goal is to get chest compressions started immediately after cardiac arrest before the EMTs and paramedics arrive.
There is a real shortage of EMTs, Chuck said, particularly in rural areas. EMTs and paramedics have invested as much in their education as many nurses, yet they are proportionately underpaid.
“Stress,” he conceded, “is probably one of the largest factors.”
Volunteer EMTs do not have regular shifts like nurses and can be called away at a moment’s notice. Although employers are sympathetic, many careers, including supervisors in the medical field and teaching simply do not allow for volunteer EMTs and paramedics to leave their place of employment at a moment’s notice to respond to an accident or illness.
Emergency medical services personnel must respond to horrific accidents and even homicides. The code of ethics requires that emergency personnel cannot share any information about the emergency they respond to, even with family members.
EMTs and paramedics are a relatively recent phenomenon. In the 1960s, fire department personnel often responded to emergency calls with the earliest ambulances being funeral home hearses.
For those who aspire to this heroic career, classes are available in Mobridge. Chuck teaches STEMI classes through Mission Lifelinein Mobridge, Selby, Bowdle, Gettysburg, Hoven, and Eureka. His counterpart, Cliff Rose, Little Eagle, teaches classes in West River.
There is even a cadet program, training several dedicated Mobridge-Pollock High School juniors and seniors. Initiated at Mobridge High School in 2007, the program has already seen several of their graduates become paramedics or nurses.