EMS program highlights nutrition, mental health

More than 85 personnel from local fire, rescue, police and sheriff’s departments attended Tri-County Health Care’s 32nd annual Emergency Medical Service (EMS) program. The event was held on Tuesday, March 12, at M State in Wadena.

This annual event includes education, networking and recognition of outstanding efforts from area emergency medical responders, law enforcement and emergency dispatch centers. Paul Nystrom, M.D., gave a presentation about the role that nutrition plays in the overall health of a first responder. Scott Geiselhart spoke about his experience with post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction, as well as the importance of taking care of one another and knowing when to seek help.

Joel Beiswenger, Tri-County Health Care president and CEO, awards Gary Stelzer, EMT, with a certificate for his 10 years of dedicated service.

“As first responders, we all are trained to take care of everybody else. With the topics of nutrition and mental health, we’re learning to take care of ourselves so that we can better take care of others,” said Mike Ittner, EMS manager at Tri-County Health Care. “Thank you to all the responders, law enforcement and fire personnel who came.”

Several awards were presented to area personnel. The Star of Life award is given to emergency personnel for making a noteworthy contribution to efforts that resulted in saving a life. Recipients include:

  • Bertha Ambulance
  • Chad Peterson
  • Jeremy Wolfenbarger
  • Menahga Rescue
  • Tim Stroeing
  • Heather Warren
  • Cole Lugert
  • Tyler Wheeler
  • Bryan Savaloja
  • Keith Waaraniemi
  • Brandon Pearson
  • Sharon Heinen
  • Renee Miller
  • Eagle Bend Rescue
  • Eagle Bend Police Department
  • Mike Ittner
  • Chelsey Cordes
  • Sebeka Rescue
  • Cole Yungbauer
  • Troy Wangsness
  • Gasiem Gonzalez
  • Shannon Nielsen

    Dispatcher Shannon Nielsen (second from left) receives congratulations from (left to right) Sergeant Bryan Savaloja, Wadena County Sheriff Mike Carr, TCHC EMS Manager Mike Ittner and TCHC President and CEO Joel Beiswenger for her Star of Life Award. Nielsen received the award for performing life-saving CPR after a person collapsed near her while she was off duty. Thanks to her efforts, the patient was alert and had a regular heartbeat when first responders arrived.

Two 10-year service awards were given to Gary Stelzer and Kurt Manselle. Hewitt Fire and Rescue awarded a special Certificate of Appreciation to Rick Sullivan for his heroic work in performing life-saving actions on a friend suffering from cardiac arrest.

Scott Geiselhart spoke about the importance of mental health and how to know when to seek help. After 23 years in the Frazee Fire Department, Geiselhart was diagnosed with PTSD. He struggled with addiction and attempted suicide before making a recovery. He now is an advocate for mental health among first responders.

EMS night is sponsored by Tri-County Health Care EMS and Central Minnesota EMS Region.

Tri-County Health Care is a private, not-for-profit health care system located in Wadena, Minnesota. It offers care services such as primary health, surgery, cancer care, diagnostic imaging, obstetrics, orthopedics and rehabilitation. Tri-County operates a hospital and medical clinic in Wadena, as well as five satellite clinics and two physical therapy clinics across Wadena, Todd and Otter Tail counties. Satellite clinic locations include Bertha, Henning, Ottertail, Sebeka and Verndale. Visit TCHC.org.

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