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Monongalia EMS and the Mountaineer Area Rescue Group (MARG) are combining resources to improve emergency medical service access to remote areas.
After nearly 18 months of planning Mon EMS, in Monongalia County, has forged a partnership with MARG to improve patient care.
MARG and Mon EMS will combine emergency medical services with wilderness search and rescue skills using state of the art medical equipment to reach people who are hurt or sick in remote places like Mason Dixon Park, Coopers Rock State Forest, Snake Hill Wildlife Area and the headwaters of Cheat Lake.
Mon EMS Executive Director Forest Weyen said the two agencies will still remain separate entities.
“Our folks are trained professionals that are on an ambulance and are typically used to dealing with folks in their homes and along roads, not necessarily real far out in the wilderness,” he said.
Weyen said when someone gets hurt in an area or off a trail that is not easy to access, Mon EMS is limited in its ability to respond.
“What ends up happening is our folks are lugging equipment out there,” he said. “We might not have the full spectrum of equipment that those folks might have, water resources, compass, GPS – all those kinds of things.”
The partnership came about after both departments realized there was a need to figure out ways to solve problems before they happen.
Weyen said the two agencies were looking for ways to improve and subsequently identified there is a potential for emergency care to get delayed.
Mon EMS will provide training and competency for the Mountaineer Area Rescue Group.
“They will come to some of our training, our medical director and our clinical team will find them all such providers, these folks are West Virginia licensed EMS providers already, somewhere,” he said.
Weyen called it a “truly symbiotic” relationship. While MARG will benefit from state of the art medical equipment, personnel and first responder resources, in return they will provide land navigation, map reading and other critical skills that will help Mon EMS better handle emergencies in remote outdoor areas.
“The best thing about it is that the patients who live, work and play in Monongalia County, and certainly people in those super remote areas out in the wilderness somewhere, they’re going to have proper EMS care if and when they need it,” he said.