LeFlore County Emergency Medical Services; Making a difference one life at a time

LeFlore County Emergency Medical Services has continued to grow since its inception in 1976. The service has seen expansion from a single ambulance with the administrative office located in the LeFlore County Courthouse to its current size of five stations and a fleet of eight ambulances and two quick-response emergency vehicles. With a new home in Poteau completed a decade ago, the stations located in Spiro, Pocola and Heavener since have had a makeover from small homes or single-wide trailers to modern stations. The Talihina station now will have a new look as the dilapidated trailer medics are currently housed in is replaced with a state-of-the art facility. The new facility was designed on a 50-year plan. That is to say – it will be constructed to handle expansion with the estimated increase in emergency patient care in the southern portion of LeFlore County. The construction on the Talihina station is under way as crews begin groundwork on the station. “Our call volume has significantly increased over the past two years,” said Dave Grovdahl, EMS director. “At some point EMS will be expected to utilize additional crews in the southern part of LeFlore County and this building will give us the ability.”The new 5,200-square-foot building will contain living quarters for four medics along with bays for three ambulances, a kitchen area, laundry area, supply room, conference room and a reception area. Currently on-duty medics at the Talihina station share a single-wide trailer that is old and beginning to fall apart as walls separate from the floor. With the new facility, each medic will have their own sleeping quarters with a private bathroom to help ensure privacy. The conference room in the new building will provide training opportunities for both EMS personnel and the public. “We will be able to offer community training in the conference room,” said Grovdahl. “We can provide the public with cardiopulmonary resuscitation classes along with first aide. It can also function as an emergency operations command center to be utilized by EMS, fire departments, Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Emergency Management in the event of a disaster in the southern part of the county.”But the conference room was designed to perform multiple functions. Due to the need of a safe shelter away from Oklahoma storms and tornadoes, the conference room will be built as a dual-purpose safe room. The safe room will be made available to the public during severe weather. A donation of $175,000 given to EMS by Choctaw Nation Health Care Services will be used in the construction of the new Talihina facility.LeFlore County EMS was established in 1977 and was the second EMS district formed in the state of Oklahoma under the 522 District Act of 1976. The service moved to its second location not long after it was formed. The offices and medics were re-located to a small home on South McKenna street adjacent to the Donald W. Reynolds Community Center. The home is no longer standing. In 1986 the EMS was based out of Eastern Oklahoma Medical Center during a period in which the hospital took over the responsibility of the service. The ambulances were parked in front of the emergency room and medics spent their time assisting in the emergency room and other departments when not on emergency calls. In 1993, the district took back control of the EMS and again the location was changed. In 1993 stations were opened in Talihina and Spiro and it wasn’t until 1994 that Poteau re-opened a station, which was located in the building on the north side of Country Boy Furniture. During the time EMS was located next to the store, officials established the first dispatch center. The center, which was a precursor to the new 911 system, was established in July 1997. During that same year, EMS expanded its services, opening stations in Pocola and Heavener. That is where EMS remained until the completion of the LeFlore County facility.“LeFlore County EMS is an integral part of our community’s health security and we are helping to build the community’s resilience by strengthening all aspects of the emergency response system,” said Grovdahl. “EMSLC provides crucial pre-hospital medical care to fellow citizens when they need it most. The system has developed state-of-the-art protocols that include cutting-edge treatment for heart attack, stroke and trauma.”According to Grovdahl, LCEMS responded to more than 6,128 calls for service in 2012 and transported over 4,766 patients. They trained 36 first responders and citizens in first aid and life-saving procedures, as well as more than 372 people in CPR.“In 2013 LCEMS will continue to drive healthcare technology and capabilities,” said Grovdahl. “We will be a community leader and partner.”