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By Bev Odom/The Red River Sun—
WELLINGTON — Ambulance runs jumped from 355 in 2019 to 443 in 2020 for Wellington Emergency Medical Services (WEMS). Farris Nation, WEMS administrator and Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT), described the impact of the global pandemic on Collingsworth County during the annual banquet at 7 p.m. on Jan. 9 at the WEMS barn.
Guest Lonnie Needham opened the celebration event with a prayer. WEMS staff and guests dined on brisket, ham, bacon jalapeño poppers and an array of side dishes and desserts. Door prize drawings followed.
“We had a crazy and overwhelming year,” Nation said. “We made a lot of runs because of COVID-19, an increase of 88 runs from 2019. Also, our transfers to a higher level of care went from 79 in 2019 to 111 in 2020, and aircraft came in only 48 times for medical emergency transport.”
Nation totaled 251 runs for 2020 plus completed AEMT training. Noah Downing, Emergency Medical Responder (EMR), made 156 runs plus took over as ambulance maintenance director for Nation.
“In a volunteer service, it’s really a big help for everyone to restock supplies on the trucks,” Downing said. “Thank you all so much for putting stuff back after a run.”
WEMS Treasurer Kirby Campbell presented the financial report.
“We are holding our head above water,” he said. “It’s been a good year and we’ve bought a lot of new equipment that benefits our service too.”
The service spent over $118,000 on three new LifePac defibrillators in 2020, one for each of the three ambulances, plus various other equipment for a total cost of $266,526. Grants covered the bulk of the cost of the lifesaving devices.
Campbell expressed appreciation to Collingsworth County and Collingsworth County Hospital District for annual subsidies to WEMS of $25,000 each. Preferred Management, Inc. through Collingsworth General Hospital provided the ambulance supplies.
Campbell, along with Pat Needham, EMT, completed 31 years with WEMS as 2020 drew to a close and Needham notched 201 runs.
EMR Valerie Mathews made 81 runs in 2020, EMT Charmayne Hampton made 46 and AEMT Michael Ryan made 42. Tammy Riley, registered nurse/paramedic had 41 runs.
All EMTs, Westin Williams added 23 runs, Matt Orr 14 and Chantell Hampton 12 runs. EMR Sierra Hartman made 13 runs.
Preston Barlow, another member of WEMS who also serves as a nurse practitioner with Collingsworth Family Medicine and CGH, spent 2020 tied up with these facilities.
WEMS utilized its variance certificate to be able to operate with one certified person in the back and a fireman or deputy as a driver eight times in 2020. In addition, a fireman or deputy assisted 140 times as escorts or in other capacities.
“It’s been a crazy year no doubt, and there’s no telling what 2021 will bring,” Nation said. “The shift sheet doesn’t tell the whole story, and everybody comes out of the woodwork when you need them. We’ve had times that two ambulances were out of town on runs, and staff on standby here in town with the third. I have faith we will prevail.”
Nation said he is excited for WEMS to be enhancing its staff in 2021 as Downing, Hartman, Samantha Blacksher and Carle Kemp complete the EMT requirements.
In election of new officers, WEMS voted Downing as president, Orr, vice-president, Hartman, secretary and Downing, Orr and Ryan, trustees.
A lively rendition of “The Saran Wrap Ball Game” highlighted the evening.
Angel’s Subs & Sweets, Bartlett’s Lumber & Hardware, Bawcom Supply, Farmers Co-op Society #1, Greenbelt Electric Cooperative, Greenline Equipment, JD’s Auto Supply & Repair, Mona’s Firehouse Cocina, Pilgrim Bank, Rocket Nutrition, TBerry’s Gifts, The Gettin’ Spot Cafe, Two Rivers Family Restaurant and Wellington State Bank provided door prizes for the WEMS staff.