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Altru’s Emergency Medical Services | Keeping Our Communities Safe
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Altru’s Emergency Medical Services | Keeping Our Communities Safe

June 27, 2022

If you’ve attended a large gathering in our area, like a concert at the Alerus Center, a hockey game at the Ralph Engelstad Arena, or other local events, you may have noticed Altru’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) set up nearby. Altru’s EMS is there to provide emergency medical services to spectators, staff and performers—even when some of these events draw attendance upwards of 14,000 people.

All those events add up. Throughout 2021, Altru’s EMS team totaled 225 volunteer hours and 1,361 contracted hours in the field, assisting at events across the region. One of the team members seen at these events is Altru’s EMS Ambulance Supervisor, Tim Nesdahl, who has worked in EMS since he was 20 years old.

“All I have ever known is EMS,” Nesdahl says. “I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to work for an organization in a role that allows me the opportunity to make a difference every single day in the lives of those in our community.”

What Our Presence Means for Our Community

When there is a medical emergency, seconds count. So, when large crowds gather for an event and Altru’s EMS is stationed at the scene, the team is that much closer to providing aid right away. This is incredibly important during events where a participant has an increased potential to become injured or ill. Altru’s EMS is there to provide emergency care on the spot.

“When we have major events, we send out a text for help and get responses immediately,” Nesdahl says. “There are times when we have multiple large events in town on the same day, and our Altru team steps up to get all of these events covered.”

You will see at least two EMS volunteers at every event, but just how many are on site depends on the expected attendance and how widespread the event is. Twelve EMS members are dedicated to events that span several miles, such as the Grand Forks Marathon. Altru’s EMS also sets up first-aid stations for non-emergency situations for people seeking shade, water or an adhesive bandage to cover a minor scrape. EMS volunteers can also perform blood pressure checks on request.

If you spot Altru’s EMS at a local event, you can feel assured that its care teams are equipped to handle a wide range of situations that require medical care, from small cuts and bruises to more serious conditions. From the moment you need help to after you have received care, Altru’s EMS is by your side. For Nesdahl, making a difference makes the work worth it.

“When someone is sick or injured and you are able to help them and make a difference in their life, it is incredibly rewarding,” Nesdahl says. “It’s what drives me to come to work every day.”

No Off-Season for Emergency Preparedness

Altru’s EMS maintains a high level of emergency preparedness, and EMS personnel are specially trained in: 

Emergency gear set up by vehicle.
  • Decontamination
  • HazMat response
  • Infectious disease response
  • Incident command
  • Large venue response
  • Mass casualty incidents (MCI)
  • Tactical response

“Our medics have specialized training and work specifically with the tactical team and the tools and tactics they use,” Nesdahl says. “The special training, they receive allows them to be much closer to the danger zone in case there is an injury to an officer or suspect. They have training in the protective clothing the team is wearing and how to remove it if there is a sudden medical emergency or injury.”

But emergency preparedness isn’t all Altru’s EMS is known for.

Service of the Year Award

Altru’s EMS received the Service of The Year Award in 2021 from the North Dakota EMS Association. This award recognizes outstanding professionalism and excellent care for the community.

“We have a patient-first mentality and treat others with respect,” says Tim, who previously won the Paramedic of the Year Award for the State of North Dakota for his selfless care, improvements to prehospital care and emergency medical education in our community. An excellent example of Altru’s EMS patient-first mentality is when the team noticed one of its patients didn’t have a comfortable chair to sit in because of the patient’s injury. The team found a chair that someone was willing to donate and had the chair delivered, at no cost to the patient. 

Altru EMS team outside of the emergency room.

“Altru’s EMS is here for you,” Nesdahl says. “We have a great dedicated staff of people, and we are trained to the highest standards. We strive to provide world-class care to the people in our region, but our greatest strength is our teamwork. It is an honor to be a part of this team and be able to serve the community.”

Go Right for Sirens and Lights

Altru’s EMS personnel work hard to keep the community safe. When an emergency occurs, response crews need to get on the scene as quickly as possible. You can help our staff safely get to where they need to go by following a few rules for when an emergency vehicle approaches from behind with their lights and sirens on:
  1. Pull over to the right-hand side of the road and stop.
  2. Keep your foot on the brake so that the emergency vehicle drivers can see you have completely stopped.
  3. Stay there until the emergency vehicle has passed.
  4. Wait to make sure there aren’t any more emergency vehicles coming—sometimes there are several.
  5. Safely merge back onto the road, and stay at least 500 feet behind any emergency vehicles flashing lights and sirens. They often make sudden movements.
  6. Never try to pass or go around an emergency vehicle.
  7. At an intersection where the emergency vehicle is coming from either side, stop and wait for them to go through first.

In case of emergencies, call 911. Learn more about Altru’s Emergency Medical Services.

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