When there are emergencies in rural South Dakota, the first person on the scene is typically a volunteer. Basin Electric Power Cooperative and electric cooperatives across the state recognize the important role volunteer first responders play in rural communities. It is the reason Basin Electric gave the first responders in the Groton area a $15,000 grant at the end of January.
“Basin Electric and its member co-ops, like Northern Electric, rely on the communities and the communities rely on us, so that’s one of the reasons we’ve made this donation,” Basin Electric Director of Strategic Planning and Communications Andy Buntrock said during the check presentation at the Groton Fire Hall.
Basin Electric donated $15,554.86 to the Groton Area Fire Protection and Rescue District on January 27. The money covers the entire cost of a new Stryker Power-Pro cot for its ambulance. The Groton Area Fire Protection and Rescue District requested the grant so they can continue to provide quality service to patients across their 280 square mile coverage area.
“Putting them on a more comfortable cot helps avoid injuries,” Groton Rescue Training Officer Patti Woods said.
The fire and rescue district had been using a traditional cot for the past 20 years. According to Woods, volunteer first responders had a difficult time collapsing the cot and loading it into the ambulance when they were preparing a patient for transport. The new power cot will not only relieve patient fear and anxiety, but it will also keep volunteers on the crew healthy and safe.
“Sometimes our staff is a little limited when we have a call, so by having a power cot we can have two people put this power cot with a patient into the ambulance. Before, it was taking four of us,” Woods said.
The power cot will also make emergency response in the area smoother and more seamless. The Groton ambulance cannot transport a patient to an Aberdeen hospital which means they have to work together with Aberdeen Fire and Rescue. The new power cot is the same model Aberdeen uses so they can simply swap out cots from one ambulance to the other during an emergency.
“We can just switch cots with Aberdeen city ambulance, and it is a super time saver and it’s a lot safer, and you don’t have to move the patient as much,” Groton Fire Chief Tom Tietz said.
Basin Electric Power Cooperative, which supplies Northern Electric with wholesale electricity, trains and communicates with Groton fire and rescue volunteers on a regular basis. Basin Electric owns and operates a natural gas power plant just nine miles south of the fire hall. Annual meetings and trainings with the Groton Area Fire Protection and Rescue District are part of the co-op’s commitment to safety and the community.
“It is important for Basin Electric to work with emergency responders in local areas to help them with their needs and to help provide better response times for not only Basin facilities but also the communities Basin provides service to,” Basin Electric Distributed Generation Safety Coordinator Kelly Schafer said.
Basin Electric makes donations to 15 different fire departments in South Dakota every year. They are donations that local first responders believe bring all agencies and organizations closer together.
“Throughout our rural areas we are all working as a team,” Woods said. “It doesn’t matter if we’re the electrical companies, the co-ops, the hospitals, the paramedics, we all work as a team no matter what we do.”
And through that team approach co-ops and local first responders are trying to make their communities safer places to live, work, and play.
“We just believe if one of us thrives we all thrive,” Northern Electric Cooperative General Manager/CEO Char Hager said. “We need to work together and that makes us a community.”