Ambulance pictureResidents of rural and frontier areas rely on local Emergency Medical Services (EMS) professionals and volunteers to provide life-saving care when time is of the essence. These first responders become the faces and voices for those in healthcare crisis. In addition farm or car accidents and heart attacks, sepsis is among the common, life-threatening medical emergencies requiring the fast response of EMS squads.

Sepsis is the body’s extreme reaction to an infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sepsis begins outside of the hospital for nearly 80% of patients. Sepsis can advance quickly and result in the call for EMS services. Knowing the risk factors and identifying the symptoms allows EMS personnel to call a Sepsis Alert and ensure proper and fast treatment.

Katy Burket Headshot“Great Plains Quality Innovation Network – South Dakota partnered with 26 EMS squads in District III to reduce the impact of sepsis through education and the use of a Sepsis Alert screening tool,” explained Katy Burket RN, Great Plains QIN program manager. “EMS professionals are critical healthcare partners in their communities for preventing sepsis infection or death.”


According to the 2016 EMS Survey and Listening Report, 73% of EMS agencies in South Dakota utilize volunteers with 65% serving populations of 3,000 or fewer. The personal commitment of EMS squad members includes training and education, in addition to service calls and on-call hours to ensure community coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.

Roxi Summerville, EMT for the Platte Ambulance Service added, “One of the biggest obstacles we face in rural healthcare is having enough personnel and retraining them. We also struggle with opportunities for continuing education and competencies as well.”

“I love learning new things and enjoy personal interaction so it was a great fit for me,” added Nicole Neugebauer, a volunteer with the Douglas County Ambulance in Armour, SD. “We have monthly meetings and go over scenarios all the time, just in case we have something that we do not usually respond to. Our location does not warrant the use of all of our skills and sometimes it is difficult to get into our rural areas due to road conditions. We have a great team that is used to driving their farm vehicles so it helps when having to drive the ambulance.”

Great Plains QIN recognizes the commitment and dedication of the 3,301 EMS providers serving the residents of South Dakota and encourages others to join in celebrating them during National EMS Week, May 19-25, 2019.

“Over the years I have had the privilege of working with our local EMTs. Without a doubt, they are some of the most dedicated, professional, caring and well-trained individuals.” Jerome Bentz, MD, of Platte Health Center Avera in Platte, SD, noted.  “Whether it’s carrying pagers, continuing education, taking call or making runs; these are just some of the personal sacrifices they make to serve the people of our community. Our EMTs are an integrated and essential part of our healthcare system and we are very grateful for their service.”

Great Plains QIN received special funding to increase awareness and early recognition of sepsis. EMS professionals are critical partners as they can help prevent sepsis infection or death by knowing the risk factors, identifying the symptoms and initiating life-saving treatment. Learn more about these efforts on the Great Plains QIN website.