Unintentional injury deaths are approximately 50% higher in rural areas than in urban areas. This is due, in part, to greater risk of death from motor vehicle crashes and opioid overdoses.  In addition, rural EMS services are often underfunded and understaffed.  A 2016 study indicated that approximately 1/3 of South Dakota ambulance services reported a delay in response or missing a call due to not having available staff. To answer this problem, the Dakota Responder program was developed. The goal of the program is to train people to provide life-saving treatment until help arrives. The program is led by Dr. Matt Owens from Redfield Community Memorial Hospital and University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine. It is sponsored by grant money from the Department of Labor and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 101 employees from Agtegra Cooperative were trained in Stop the Bleed, use of automatic external defibrillators (AED), and use of Narcan. Stop the Bleed provides education to recognize life-threatening bleeding and intervene effectively. AEDs analyze the heart rhythm and can deliver an electric shock to restore the heart rhythm to normal. Narcan is used for the treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose. The program has been quite successful.  101 of the 101 participants believe the program should be offered across rural South Dakota; 1/3 of the participants are interested in pursuing EMT training, and participants increased their confidence in responding to medical emergencies. Agtegra employees work in rural areas throughout northeastern South Dakota and will have ditch kits in their vehicles to respond to emergency situations prior to EMS arriving. The program is currently looking to form more partnerships to provide this training to others.   

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!