Rural Nye County runs on volunteers, and nowhere is this truer than in emergency response services.
Ambulance services in the county, in particular, are running short on volunteers. Members of the Beatty Volunteer Ambulance Service also handle calls in Amargosa Valley and help out with Goldfield and Tonopah.
This keeps the Beatty volunteers very busy. Beatty VAS coordinator Allison Henderson points out that Beatty’s new ambulance, put in service last May, already has 18,000 miles on it.
With new EMT classes scheduled to start soon in Beatty and Tonopah, Henderson says one goal is to get enough people to revive the volunteer service in Amargosa Valley.
Beatty has four active full-time EMT volunteers and four part-timers. A recent class also produced a few new emergency responders who can drive the ambulance and assist the EMTs in some tasks.
The EMT classes prepare students to pass the National Registry Exam, which is now required by law for initial certification. This test is demanding, and there is a high failure rate, but it can be retaken, and there are practice exams available.
Henderson’s husband, Mark, a Beatty volunteer EMT for 40 years (Allison has been for 29 years), notes that requiring the National Registry Exam has made it harder to bring in new people. “It’s like the (rurals are) getting punished for what the urban wants,” he said.
The classes do not require as much classroom time as they did in the past, since much of the instruction is taken online. Live classes are used for review and for hands-on skills.
“If we don’t start getting more people, they’re going to have to figure out what the next evolution of this will be,” perhaps a part-paid, part-volunteer service, Mark added.
In addition to the EMT class, Allison says that they’d like of have another emergency responder class. “My philosophy is get them in and work them up,” she adds.
One of the recent ER graduates, Beatty High School senior Summer Taylor, wants to go to school to become a nurse. She figured that volunteering as an emergency responder volunteer ambulance attendant would give her useful experience.
People can sign up for the class by calling Allison Henderson at 702-370-9353 or Dawn Gudmunson (Tonopah) at 775-482-4424.
Richard Stephens is a freelance reporter living in Beatty.