Muskogee County Emergency Medical Service began operations in 1982. At that time we were limited in our response area to rural Muskogee County. We began as an advanced life support (ALS) service with 26 employees, of whom 24 were EMT-Basics and First Responders and two were EMT-Intermediates. We were headquartered in the basement of the county courthouse and our three Type II and one Type I ambulances were parked outside. We also had three substations in surrounding communities that are still in use today. Even though we were small we had great vision, responding to 1,242 calls.
Our first director, J.B. Rainey led the company with great expectations and we continued to grow under his leadership. Our service area expanded in 1986 to include the city limits of Muskogee and we became the sole-source ambulance provider for all of Muskogee and Muskogee County. We were now responsible for the emergency medical needs of more than 80,000 people within an 840 square mile area. This required us to move to a new facility – a county owned building to which we added living quarters and a garage. We finally had warm ambulances in the winter!! By 1987, our annual call volume had reached 5400.
Throughout the years we grew and expanded not only our employee base but also the training requirements and opportunities for medics. Our thought has always been that our citizens and patients deserve the very best. This includes medics that are well trained, experienced, and dedicated.
By 1992 we had 45 medics, including several paramedics, RN’s, EMT-I, EMT-B, and Emergency Dispatchers. Our call volume that year was almost eight times what it had been in our first year at 8,970.
In 1993, after 11 years of dedicated service, our director J.B. Rainey retired. Terri Mortensen, RN, NRP ushered in a new era as the new director. Terri had previously served as Assistant Director for four years, and as a field paramedic prior to that. Terri Mortensen retired at the first of the year in 2019 and Laurel Havens was named the new and current director of Muskogee County EMS.
As call volumes rose, so did our employee base. By 1997, our annual call volume had increased to 9455 calls, and we had outgrown our humble beginnings and had a need for a completely new station. Our current building is located at 200 Callahan Street in Muskogee, about 5 blocks from the county courthouse where we began. It didn’t take long for us to expand. Besides our main or “central” station, we also built stations on both the East and West sides of Muskogee to accommodate our expanding services.
Muskogee County EMS sets the curve in emergency medicine in many ways. We now have approximately 160 employees (including Paramedics and Critical Care Transport Paramedics) and 20 ambulances. We were the first ground ambulance service in Oklahoma to administer thrombolytics in the field. All of our paramedic-staffed ambulances are equipped with cardiac monitors capable of wirelessly transmitting 12-lead EKG's to a receiving hospital. Other innovations that are routine to us are intraosseous infusions, RSI protocols, capnography, transport ventilators, CPAP, over 25 different cardiac medications, and surgical airways.
In 2000 we were the 18th in the United States and 41st in the world to be fully accredited by the National Academy of Emergency Medical Dispatchers.
We also have several specialized teams of employees: Our T.E.M.S. (Tactical Emergency Medical Support) team of medics actively train and participate in conjunction with the Muskogee Police Department Special Operations Team. The Disaster Medical Response (DMR) Team is specially educated and equipped for response to disasters and mass casualty situations. Our COACHES team is the first of its kind focusing on peer support and assistance.
We have now added a seventh station in the county in the community of Webbers Falls.
By the year 2018, our annual call volume had grown to over 20,000 requests for service. This year we are anticipating continued growth. We are excited about the many changes taking place and look forward to the future.