Emergency medical services (EMS) Week originated in 1974 under the direction of President Gerald Ford. Each year EMS personnel are recognized for their dedication and response in taking care of their community and the citizens in their community.
The theme for the 2020 EMS Week is “Ready Today. Preparing for Tomorrow.”
This year EMS week is May 17 – 23, with emphasis on the challenges from the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We’ve got to keep COVID-19 in the back of our head,” said Cody Augustine, EMS Supervisor at Shenandoah Medical Center, “but we’ve got to be able to do the stuff we normally do any other day of the week.”
Augustine said despite the routine transfers and responding to 911 calls, one of the biggest struggles they face with the coronavirus is not being able to practice social distancing guidelines while treating patients. He said EMS personnel and patients both wear masks to help protect one another.
Augustine grew up throughout Iowa but calls Shenandoah his home along with his wife, Shala. Moving to Shenandoah 16 years ago with his family, he pictured himself going into law enforcement, not the medical field.
He attended Iowa Western Community College after graduating from Shenandoah High School and received his associate degree in criminal justice. During this time, he served on the Shenandoah Police Department as a reserve officer for about a year.
Augustine was part of the Shenandoah Fire Department Cadet program in his junior and senior years of high school where he was first introduced to emergency medical services.
“Working with the fire department opened my eyes to the emergency medical field,” said Augustine. “Without that program, I probably would not be part of EMS.”
Augustine said George Shaw, Shenandoah Fire Department Cadet Program coordinator and Ty Davison, Shenandoah EMS Director influenced him greatly. He said they were both great mentors. Davison was also on the Shenandoah Fire Department and helped with the cadet program during the time Augustine went through the program.
Augustine said during college is when a close friend, Chad VanHouten, died in a car accident.
“Chad was a role model for me growing up,” said Augustine. “Ty was the first guy I called after Chad’s death. He was one of the few people I could talk to about that.”
After college Augustine joined the Shenandoah EMS squad as a driver. Augustine said talking through his emotions after Chad’s accident with Davison and becoming a driver for the squad set the change of his career path in motion.
“Ty helped me a lot through EMT certification classes,” said Augustine. “There were days in class where I would think I couldn’t do this. They throw so much stuff at you at one time and it’s hard to comprehend. I was able to come back and five minutes with Ty all the stuff I had been listening to the last three hours in a class that didn’t make sense, all made sense.”
Augustine eventually decided to go a step further and enrolled at Creighton University three years ago and earned his paramedic license. He has been with Shenandoah EMS for six years and recently accepted the position as EMS Supervisor.
He has also worked for the Clarinda and Glenwood EMS squads at different times over the past six years and is still a volunteer member of the Shenandoah Fire Department.
Augustine said the most challenging part of the job is when someone dies or when children are involved.
“It’s hard to deal with death,” said Augustine. “A lot of times, you take that home with you and it weighs on you. Being able to express those feelings in a healthy way is a big thing.”
He said the EMS squad is like a big family.
“Everyone on the EMS squad is great friends,” said Augustine. “After a bad call, we will debrief together. We check on each other afterward to make sure everyone is doing alright.”
Augustine has his own coping mechanisms during bad calls.
“I try not to look at faces if I can,” said Augustine. “At the scene, your training kicks in and you go through the steps. Faces and names I try not to remember.”
Augustine said helping people feel better is gratifying.
“Knowing what needs to be done and being able to help them and get them to a higher level of care that they need is very satisfying,” said Augustine. “I’ve always been that person that wanted to help other people in their time of need.”
Augustine said anyone interested in becoming an EMT or paramedic can call the Shenandoah ambulance service at 712-246-1230.
Shenandoah EMS personnel are Ty Davison, EMS Director (Critical Care Paramedic); Cody Augustine, EMS Supervisor (Paramedic) and Mike Kirsch, EMS Supervisor (Paramedic). CCP: John Baxter, Colby Baker, Craig Marshall and Aaron Lunzman. Paramedic: Katie Johnson, Zach Rasmussen, Derek Baier and Heath Graham. EMT: Corey Blum, Matt Johnson, Chris Buckhahn, Dani Treat and Jack Donnelly. Drivers: Chad Tiemeyer, Tyler Hughes, Alex Donnelly, Chris Priest, Ed Walter and Jake Johnson.