Annual week honors medical response team, fire department

Michael Krieger

From a nondescript garage in Stadium Village, emergency personnel at the Minneapolis Fire Department’s Station 19 keep a vigilant watch over the University neighborhood.

Day and night, the small group of seasoned firefighters and emergency medical technicians are summoned into action by 911 calls around campus. But on Thursday afternoon, the fire department’s B-shift crew enjoyed a rare moment of tranquility in the midst of their 24-hour shift.

“We do the best that you can do,” said Capt. Ben Jangula of his three-person crew.

Their efforts are recognized each year during Emergency Medical Services Week, May 19-25.

Jangula, a 16-year veteran of the department, said the University’s younger population tends to have fewer medical emergencies, though he still encounters problems particular to college life.

“We see a little bit more of stress-related injuries,” Jangula said, recalling instances where students have gone too long without sleep.

Along with sports-related injuries, Jangula said, his crew sees “a few alcohol- and drug-related problems” that are sometimes associated with assaults.

“No one day is really like the day before,” he said.

Firefighter Darick Rhodes has been with the department for two years.

“I wanted to do something where I could help,” he said.

Rhodes boasts that the fire department can be at the door within three minutes of being called, and said the best part about his job is the adrenaline rush.

However, Rhodes also admits that being a firefighter has its downside. “You’ll never have a regular sleep schedule; that’s the worst thing,” he said.

“The hard part is dealing with the psychological stress afterward,” Jangula said.

The University also provides emergency medical care during sporting and recreation events.

The University Emergency Medical Response Team is composed largely of students who have completed the 16-week emergency medical technician training.

EMT Lisa Matthews, a psychology senior, said she became interested in emergency care after witnessing a heart attack while in high school.

“I wanted the patient-care experience,” she said.

Matt Nechrebecki, an EMT and biochemistry junior, was working at a hockey game last semester when a player lost consciousness. Nechrebecki said his team performed an initial patient assessment on the injured player while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

“It’s just something good to know,” he said.

Michael Krieger covers University neighborhoods and welcomes comments at [email protected]