Southeast Colorado Hospital District Ambulance ServiceProvides trauma and medical care and transport in the western two-thirds of Baca County as well as the southern edge of Prowers County, the eastern edge of Las Animas County, and a portion of southeastern Bent County in southeastern Colorado. These professionals offer 24/7 911 coverage, 365 days a year-regardless of time, weather, or holidays. A small number of paid staff and volunteers operate this rural service with professional training ranging from the level of first responders to Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) to EMT-Intermediates.
Basic Life Support
Advanced Life Support
Fire and Hazardous Material Stand-by
Medical/Trauma Stand-by at Community Events
Emergency Ground Transfer Service
- Basic and advanced care ground transport to and from higher level medical centers in the extended region
Training CenterColorado-Certified Initial and Continuing Education
Emergency Medical Responder
Emergency Medical Technician
Advanced Emergency Medical Technician
Community Safety Training and Awareness
Southeast Colorado Hospital District Ambulance Service
Is owned and operated by the District which encompasses the western two-thirds of Baca County and is under the authority of the governing body of Southeast Colorado Hospital. Based in Springfield, SECHD Ambulance Service provides basic and advanced life support coverage to a population of about 2,800 living in an area of approximately 1,900 square miles. This includes the towns of Springfield, Pritchett, and Campo as well as Two Buttes Reservoir. SECH Ambulance Service also periodically helps to provide coverage to the edges of several neighboring counties - Prowers, Las Animas and Bent. At times, the coverage zone has expanded south to assist Oklahoma and southwest to New Mexico as well. In addition, SECH Ambulance Service provides transfer services from SECHD to higher level hospitals out of the area and from these hospitals back to SECHD.
Day One Honors-
Emergency Medical Service Honors
35+ Years - LeRoy England, EMT and Esther England, EMT-IV
LeRoy and Esther England have served the Baca County community for over 35 years as active Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). LeRoy became an EMT in 1982 and Esther in 1985. They were instrumental in starting the Campo Quick Response Team (QRT) back in the 1980s, and since then have continued as active responders to local emergencies. For many years, their service was on a volunteer basis, and only recently have they become per diem staff of SECHD.
The amount of continuing education and experience LeRoy and Esther have earned over the years is staggering. In recognition of their years of dedicated service, they were nominated by former SECHD EMS Director, Paramedic Rick Hartley, for one of the highest EMS honors in the state of Colorado. They were awarded the Colorado State EMTs of the Year at the Emergency Medical Services Association of Colorado EMS Conference in November of 2010. [LeRoy and Esther with their EMTs of the Year plaque and daughters Megan (left) and Cherilyn (right) both of whom are now also EMTs.]
LeRoy and Esther will be the first to tell you they do not consider themselves heroes, but simply public servants. Their EMS legacy has not only touched the many patients and members of the community they've been called to serve over the last decades, but also to two of their daughters (also EMTs) and numerous others who have trained with and under them over the years. The Englands have journeyed with organized EMS since its youth, and they continue to adapt to the countless changes in practice and procedure with excellence.
Thank you, LeRoy and Esther, for your continued service to Baca County and the Southeast Colorado Hospital District. LeRoy and Esther will each receive a 35 years of EMS service pin.
Emergency Medical Service Honors
EMS Honors 10+ years for Active Personnel
Charles "Chuck" Wilson - EMT
Chuck's history in emergency services goes back to around 2000 when he first worked as an EMT and then an EMT-Intermediate. For a while, he stepped back from EMS to focus on his hospital-setting career as a Respiratory Therapist, but in 2016 he regained his licensure as an EMT and has spent numerous hours building his knowledge base. Chuck will receive a 10 years of EMS service pin.
Larry Miller - First Responder
Larry began a career of service in the military, going above and beyond the call for years before he began working with SECHD EMS in 2001 as an EMT student. While he no longer works as an EMT, retirement is not in his vocabulary - his primary role over the last several years has been as a driver covering over a quarter of a million miles in an ambulance, transporting hundreds of patients to lifesaving care. Larry will receive a First Responder patch.
Cherilyn Wittler - EMT-Intermediate/99
Cherilyn volunteered as a first responder beginning in 2001 and attended the local EMT class in 2009. She also increased her certification by completing the EMT-I/99 class in 2012. Cherilyn began working per diem for SECHD in 2012 before moving to a full-time position. She is now the SECHD EMS Director and is dedicated to maintaining a sustainable future for EMS in Baca County. Cherilyn will receive a 10 years of EMS service pin.
Mark Miranda - First Responder
Mark began working in Emergency Services as a volunteer firefighter in 2001. He continued learning and training, and by 2006 was regularly responding with SECHD EMS. Since then, he has served hundreds of community members and strangers in their times of need. Mark is passionate about helping others and is an advocate for patient and provider safety. He will receive a First Responder patch.
Rachel Harmon - EMT-Intermediate/99
Rachel became an EMT in 2009 when a course was offered at the Springfield EMS station. She later increased her certification by taking the EMT-Intermediate course through Lamar Community College (LCC) finishing in 2012. Rachel is passionate about community education and became a certified CPR and First Aid instructor, teaching several classes a year for the community. She has worked full-time as an EMT for SECHD and is currently a per diem staff member. Rachel will receive a 10 years of EMS service pin.
Emergency Medical Service Honors
EMS Honors 5 plus Years of Service
Megan England - EMT-IV
Megan finished her EMT coursework immediately after high school, obtaining her certification in 2013. She responded with EMS as much as possible when visiting home throughout college and her initial career away from Baca County. In 2019, she moved back and actively participates in serving her community, furthering her education by becoming IV certified. Megan will receive a 5 years of EMS service pin.
Shannon Powell - EMT-I/99
Shannon began working as a full-time EMT in 2015 after obtaining her EMS training through LCC directly after high school. She continued her EMS training in 2018, completing her EMT-Intermediate coursework and is hoping to take her EMS career to the next level in the future by attending Paramedic school. Shannon is known among our crew and her patients as being a force of calm in the midst of chaos. Shannon will receive a 5 years of EMS service pin.
Southeast Colorado Hospital Ambulance Service: EMS Strong
In 1969, SECH officially opened its doors and thus began the first true ambulance service in Springfield with a 1967 Chevy Suburban [picture 2] converted to function as an ambulance. Frank England, an orderly at the hospital in the 1970s, recalls being part of the team that painted the ambulance and got it ready to use. He was also one of those who responded with the ambulance when a call for help came.
In the 1995 celebration of the 25th anniversary of SECH, an interview discussing the history of the ambulance service was conducted with Mary Lovell, a long-time resident of Baca County who served as a nurse aide at SECH for many years. She stated,
"When an ambulance call came in, one of the aides (usually me if I was on duty) would call a driver from a list of volunteers. I would continue to go down the list until I reached the first available driver. When the driver arrived at the hospital, we would go out to pick up our patient. We didn't have much in the way of supplies and equipment in the ambulance. There was an oxygen tank, a blood pressure cuff, stethoscope, bandages and resuscitation bag. The nurse aides had no emergency training like today's CPR aside from the experience they got from working in the emergency room. There wasn't any direct radio contact with the hospital as we have today. If we needed to speak with anyone at the hospital, we called the sheriff who in turn called the hospital and relayed questions and answers."
Lovell made history along with Frank England and a few others when they became Springfield's first EMTs in 1976. Worth Poteet who was also employed by the hospital and took that first EMT class, assumed leadership of the ambulance service in Springfield. By 1977, Poteet and Lovell were the only EMTs still responding with SECH Ambulance Service, and the need to recruit more help became quickly evident as they were "on call" for emergencies 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
A second class was offered in 1978, taught by Dr. Antonio Manalo in Springfield. Among the 24 who took the class was Baca County resident, Dennis Ring. After responding to vehicle accidents, as a member of Otero County Sheriff's Posse, Ring chose to become an EMT because of a desire to have the knowledge and training to "not just stand there" while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. He notes the significant changes in EMS during his time ranging from improvements in supplies such as c-collars, gurneys, monitors, and defibrillators to the dramatic changes in ambulances and the number of pre-hospital medications that can now be given. Ring proudly recalls the efforts of their team of EMTs and the community to raise money for the first new ambulance, a 1979 Ford Type III, a box type unit purchased in 1979. It was a monumental effort as they had to raise thirty thousand dollars, a feat that seemed impossible to some at the time. Ring volunteered with SECH Ambulance until 2006 when he became a full-time staff member and just retired last year, retaining his certification for a period of 36 years.
Change occurred rapidly in the early years, and leadership of SECH Ambulance was not an exception. After Poteet turned it over, the role was shuffled among a few other hospital employees including RN Dottie Woodhouse and in 1991, Tom Lovell, then head of the Lab Department at SECH. It became evident that a significant amount of time needed to be devoted to the ambulance service in order to maintain a high standard of care. Having a full-time job elsewhere in the hospital made this difficult, so in 1992, the job was offered and accepted as a full-time position to Rick Hartley, former hospital board member and volunteer EMT.
Our service has seen a number of changes among our fleet of ambulances over the years as well. Hartley recalls how after trading in the 1979 Ford ambulance for a new 1987 Chevy Type I (box type), one day it caught fire due to an electrical short and burned. With the insurance money, they were able to replace it with a 1991 Ford Collins Type III Diesel (a box type), but while waiting on that ambulance to arrive they purchased a used Ford Type II (van type). In 1992, Hartley, applied for a grant to buy a new ambulance with 4x4 capability for emergencies occuring in harder to reach locations or on poor road conditions. The grant, received from the State of Colorado, was used to purchase a 1992 Ford Type III ambulance as well as a blood pressure monitor and two automatic defibrillators. One stipulation of the grant was that the older used ambulance be placed in service elsewhere in the district. At the time, the Pritchett/Kim Quick Response Team (QRT) based out of Pritchett was in need of a unit, so the Ford van type ambulance was placed there. [picture 3]
Later grants allowed SECH Ambulance Service to again update the fleet first with a 1997 Ford Type I, then a 2003 Ford Type I and most recently a 2010 Dodge Type I. [picture 4] In addition, in 2001, SECH Ambulance Service became one of the first agencies in the state of Colorado to purchase a smaller transfer ambulance, in this case, a converted 2001 Ford Excursion. [picture 5] Later a 2006 GMC Yukon was added to the transfer fleet. SECH Ambulance Service now maintains two box type ambulances and the two smaller transfer units. All four units are stocked with the required equipment and supplies to operate an Advanced Life Support service. As replacements have occurred, the older model units have been donated or sold to other ambulance services or local QRTs.
QRTs have played an important role in Baca County's Emergency Medical Services. They were born out of a need for a faster response to emergencies in the most rural locations. They generally do not transport patients but instead provide supportive care until the nearest ambulance arrives.
Kim QRT out of Las Animas County was the first QRT in the state of Colorado. It began providing service to the Kim area around 1979 or the early 1980s. In 1991, a few people from the Pritchett area became certified EMTs so the two regions combined becoming the Pritchett/Kim QRT. Around 1995, Kim returned to operating their own service out of Kim and Pritchett QRT retained a unit until 2006. At that point, there were no longer any certified EMTs in Pritchett so the Pritchett QRT was discontinued. Kim Ambulance is still operative and currently under the direction of Lon Robertson, Paramedic.
In the mid-1980s, at the encouragement of Worth Poteet, EMTs LeRoy and Esther England of Campo, along with several other early EMTs from that area started Campo QRT. Campo's first QRT unit, a repurposed 1973 Chevy model van fondly recalled as "the brown bus," responded to many a patient in need before it was later replaced by a box type unit. They currently operate with the 1997 Ford Type I vehicle donated by SECH Ambulance Service. [picture 6] Though they also assist Walsh Ambulance Service at times by responding to calls east of Campo, Campo QRT, is now a subsidiary of SECH Ambulance Service. Many have graciously volunteered their time in service through Campo QRT, but the Englands remain the only EMTs still practicing there.
SECH Ambulance Service first housed ambulances in what is
now the maintenance building north of the hospital. The building was initially shared with Central Supply, though Central Supply eventually moved. The ambulance service continued operating from that location until 1999 when Hartley applied for and received a grant to buy a different building and remodel it. The old Auto Parts building [picture 7] on Kansas Street was purchased. Having significant construction experience, Hartley and his son, Jered, transformed the building into the current ambulance station with attached classroom and office space. [picture 8]
In 1988, SECH Ambulance Service was struggling to find and keep volunteers to staff the ambulances. A shortage of equipment needed to treat patients was also a significant problem. SECH District, also experiencing financial limitations, was unable to provide the funds necessary to purchase additional equipment for the ambulance service. As a result, the EMTs decided to organize the Springfield EMS Association to provide support for the ambulance service. In 1990, Springfield EMS Association, Inc., became incorporated and filed for 501c3 non-profit status which was granted in 1992. The Association's main goals are to provide man-power, funding for equipment, and training for current and new EMTs. They determined that any equipment acquired through their efforts would be donated to SECH Ambulance Service. The training they work to provide to all of the EMTs in Baca County is offered at no, or very little, cost to the EMTs. Funding is obtained primarily through grants, fundraisers, and donations. Furthermore, Springfield EMS Association Inc. offers CPR and First Aid classes as well as injury prevention training to the public at no cost.
Collaborative teamwork between SECH District and Springfield EMS Association Inc. has brought SECH Ambulance Service up to one of the best small community ambulance services in the state.
By Cherilyn Wittler, EMS - Director