Southeast Colorado Hospital (SECH) Ambulance Service is owned and operated by the SECH District which encompasses the western two-thirds of Baca County and is under the authority of the governing body of Southeast Colorado Hospital. Based in Springfield, SECH Ambulance Service provides basic and advanced life support coverage to a population of about 2,800 living in an area of approximately 1,900 square miles. This includes the towns of Springfield, Pritchett, and Campo as well as Two Buttes Reservoir. SECH Ambulance Service also periodically helps to provide coverage to the edges of several neighboring counties – Prowers, Las Animas and Bent. At times, the coverage zone has expanded south to assist Oklahoma and southwest to New Mexico as well. In addition, SECH Ambulance Service provides transfer services from SECH to higher level hospitals out of the area and from these hospitals back to SECH.
In 2014, SECH Ambulance Service responded to 487 calls many of which involved multiple patients. Of those calls, 204 were 9-1-1 related medical or trauma incidents, 111 were interfacility hospital transfers, 85 were flight shuttles, 55 were standbys, 31 were cancelled calls, and one was an Advanced Life Support intercept with another agency. This is a significant change over the last 25 years as the call volume in the early 1990s was only about 70 to 100 calls per year – a nearly 600% increase in activity. In the last year our service logged over 45,000 miles. This 24 hour per day/seven day per week coverage is provided by one full-time paid Paramedic, two full-time paid Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)-Intermediate/99s, one full-time Emergency Medical Technician, two volunteer EMT-Basics and a small handful of volunteer First Responders and drivers. SECH Ambulance Service has come a long way since its inception.
No one understands the work and sacrifice that has been required to make our service what it is today better than Rick Hartley, current EMS Director. Hartley took the EMT-Basic course in Springfield in 1984 and volunteered with SECH Ambulance Service until he took over as EMS Director in 1992. His tireless efforts in grant writing have resulted in nearly 1.5 million dollars of funding to dramatically improve our service. This includes acquiring better supplies, purchasing new ambulances, and providing training for the community, SECH Ambulance Service employees and volunteers, SECH District and the Walsh Hospital District Ambulance Service. Recognizing the need for an advanced level of pre-hospital care in our rural area, Hartley chose to increase his own level of training becoming an EMT-Intermediate/85 in 1995 then an EMT- Intermediate/99 in 1999 and finally Southeast Colorado Hospital’s first Paramedic in 2008. Injury prevention and training has been at the forefront of Hartley’s dedication to his community. He spends countless hours teaching EMT and CPR classes as well as a variety of other related courses. During his 23 year period as SECH EMS Director and 31 year career in EMS, he has been an instrumental leader in Baca County’s Emergency Medical Services.
More than 25 EMT classes have been offered through SECH Ambulance Service and the Springfield EMS Association in the last 30 years and a fairly significant number of Baca County’s residents trained and practiced as EMTs at one point or another. Unfortunately, in recent years, the number of people taking these classes and completing the certification process has declined. Very few of those previously trained have retained their certification for various reasons, so the number of EMTs available to the community has significantly decreased. Volunteers are still needed. Even basic CPR and First Aid skills are extremely valuable regardless of whether you want to become a volunteer. SECH Ambulance Service and Springfield EMS Association offer a free CPR class to any in the community on the last Wednesday of each month. As a state approved training center, SECH Ambulance Service also periodically offers First Responder and EMT basic and advanced level training.
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a First Responder or an EMT or simply becoming certified in CPR, come talk with us at 972 Kansas St in Springfield or call 719-523-2186. You can also check out the following websites:
By Cherilyn England, NREMT-Intermediate 99