Hutchinson Regional Medical Center & Reno County EMS celebrate 50 years as a team.
September 1 marks the golden anniversary for Reno County Emergency Medical Services and Hutchinson Regional Medical Center (HRMC). The 50-year story of Reno County EMS working under the HRMC umbrella is a tale worth repeating and, as one local put it, “is a marriage that has exceeded all expectations.”
Great things are often accomplished when a small group of visionaries collaborate and dream about how to make something better. Even greater: a brainstorming meeting in which no one is concerned about who gets the credit.
Such was the case in 1971 when four community visionaries met to find common ground on how the county could best provide emergency medical services to Reno County. At the table were Drs. Jack Wortman and William Von Ruden along with City Manager George Pyle and Joe Mackey, then CEO of Hutchinson Hospital Corporation. Mackey offered a plan to provide ambulance services with trained medical personnel to the two hospitals at that time (Grace and St. Elizabeth’s).
These trailblazing visionaries were ahead of their time and much of the state in responding to growing support for delivery of emergency services. Three years earlier, in 1968, the nation’s telephone companies reserved the number 9-1-1 for a nationwide emergency calling system.
It was an offer no one could refuse, particularly when it included coverage to all 1,272 square miles that make up Reno County. In 1975, with the opening of what is now Hutchinson Regional Medical Center, the operation was transferred to the new hospital where it remains to this day. (Dr. Wortman, who retired in 1995 as a practicing physician, and his wife Donna continue to reside in Hutchinson.)
Five decades later, service quantity (in residents served) and quality have grown astronomically. Currently, 43 trained medical technicians make up Reno County EMS. During 2019, EMS responded to 7,404 calls from Reno County residents and transported more than 5,000 patients to hospitals. During the first seven months of 2021, calls increased by 10 percent from the same period two years ago.
All Reno County EMS staff is trained in Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support and Neonatal Resuscitation. Other certifications held by EMS staff include Advanced Stroke Life Support and Pediatric Education for Pre-Hospital Providers.
Paramedics operate under medical and trauma protocols that are endorsed by emergency room physicians and other specialists that comprise the Emergency Services Critical Care Committee for Hutchinson Regional Medical Center.
In 2002, EMS established a substation in Arlington, 20 miles southwest of Hutchinson which provides 24/7 care to an area that comprises nearly 40 percent of Reno County’s population including the communities of Abbyville, Langdon, Plevna, Partridge, Sylvia and Turon. Volunteer Emergency Medical Services in Pretty Prairie and Haven, who are licensed by the Kansas Board of EMS work closely with Reno County EMS.
Today, a call to 911 will summon emergency personnel to one’s home in as quickly as a few minutes.
Unsurprisingly, Reno County EMS has earned several state and national awards for excellence. On September 8, 2020 Reno County EMS was named recipient of the American Heart Association’s Lifeline EMS Gold Plus Award. The award was granted to recognize EMS for implementing and maintaining quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who suffer heart attacks. Specifically, the award recognizes efforts to improve systems of care to rapidly identify suspected heart attack victims and promptly notify the Hutchinson Regional Emergency Department to generate a speedy response once the patient arrives at the hospital. After all, an ambulance is far more than a vehicle for transporting patients from point A to point B. Reno County EMS is an emergency room on four wheels, with 35 different medications available, and the expertise of an agile and skilled crew.
Reno County EMS is a 50-year success story for serving this area with the best of life saving techniques. One hundred years after Hutchinson transported its first patient in what may have been a Model T Ford, Reno County EMS is serving area residents with the emergency medical services they need today, with a constant eye on what the community might need in the future.
Speaking for the Executive Team at Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System, we celebrate Reno County EMS and their half century of high-quality service to our community and we’re pleased this organization is a member of our healthcare family.
By Ken Johnson, President & CEO of Hutchinson Regional Healthcare System.