North Sanpete EMT volunteers committed to help
By Linda Peterson
Volunteers are the lifeblood of the small communities that dot Sanpete County.
With very limited resources, local government services can stretch only so far. Fortunately, thanks to people like Alta Lynne Rasmussen of Fountain Green and J. Todd Anderson of Moroni many of the residents’ most critical needs get met.
Rasmussen and Anderson are both volunteers with the North Sanpete Ambulance Service, which covers the towns of Moroni, Fountain Green, Wales and Chester.
“Really, we go anywhere on the west side from Kitchen Hollow to the Juab/Sanpete County line,” Rasmussen said. “We also got all the way up on the mountain and halfway to Mt. Pleasant.”
Both have put in literally thousands of hours for almost no pay, just because someone asked them to. In Rasmussen’s case, it was Ted Knight who asked her if she would be willing to volunteer back in January 1983.
“I was a homemaker at the time and felt I could contribute,” she said. “It’s my way to serve and something I’m good at. Some do PTA; I like to be able to make a difference, to know lives have been saved because I was there. It just becomes a part of your soul.”
Rasmussen’s husband Lewis was gone a lot driving truck during those early years, but she had a supportive family who would take her son Josh and later, her daughter Hailee when she got called out. She has continued to serve in all the years since, taking various certifications along the way.
In time, volunteering with the ambulance service became a family affair. Josh, who was five when she signed up, eventually became a volunteer EMT himself and was followed by his sister. Hailee served for eight years before she married and moved to Nephi. Josh has continued to this day and volunteers with the Ephraim ambulance when he’s not teaching band at the middle school.
When Fountain Green calls come in, Lewis, who is now retired, goes out with Rasmussen so she doesn’t have to go alone. He’ll help wherever he can, doing anything from shoveling snow or moving garbage cans to helping load patients on the ambulance.
Coming from a small community, Rasmussen said it is often family and friends they are called out to help. On one particularly memorable call, Rasmussen had to do CPR on her uncle Booth Cook.
“We saved him and he lived for another 15 years,” she said Her favorite part of the job is her association with the other EMTs.
“They feel like my family; they’re my social life,” she said. Now a fulltime shipping clerk at Norbest, Rasmussen said her employers are very accommodating and will allow her to respond to calls that come in while she’s working.
Rasmussen has received many awards over the years and said she hopes to continue as long as she is able.
“I love what I do,” she said. “I don’t like the feeling of not knowing how to handle a situation; so I keep striving to get better, to keep learning.”
“Alta Lynne is a wonderful person and an excellent EMT,” said R. Todd Anderson, immediate past chairman of the board for North Sanpete Ambulance Service. “I’ve known her since the day I began.”
In fact, Anderson’s start in volunteer service wasn’t far behind Rasmussen’s. He and his wife Leah both started in 1984 and were certified as EMTs in 1985. They saw a flier at the feed company and “figured we’d give a hand,” he said. That hand turned into body, heart and soul for the last 35 years.
After about 15 years Leah went on to pursue nursing while Todd Anderson stayed volunteering with the ambulance. These days he’s a retired coal miner. However, he hasn’t hung up his EMT uniform just yet.
“I still look around the community and see neighbors who may still be in need,” he said. “I figure if I can help them, that’s great.”
Anderson said EMT training has come a long way since those early days. “We were at the start of the first defibrillators and then we learned to start IVs,” he said. “It’s amazing what we can do now: we run the same protocol as the emergency room. The advances are unbelievable. We get called out on anything from medical emergencies, to vehicle accidents to trauma; our training covers all of that.”
Anderson has served out in the field, as a supervisor and instructor, and more than one term on the board; he has personally saved several lives. “Todd is an excellent instructor; I’ve seen him in classes teaching and he’s an excellent teacher,” Rasmussen said. “He’s just a good one to have your back. I like to respond with him; we make a good team.”
Like Rasmussen, Anderson has also received many awards but says he doesn’t keep track of them. “I never did it for the awards anyway,” he said. “When the family shakes your hand or gives you a hug, that’s recognition enough.”