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New home for some Fort Berthold first responders

Published: Mar. 22, 2021 at 5:35 PM CDT
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MANDAREE, N.D. – The MHA Nation opened a new location for some of its first responders in the heart of oil country.

It’s not just home to Mandaree’s Emergency Medical Services, but also on the other side to its fire department.

The organizations teamed up to build a home they can share to continue saving lives in the community, who greeted them with celebration.

“I’m really glad they are here so they can help our people in case of an emergency. Like a lot of the guys said, from Watford City it’s 50 miles, from New Town is another 20-30 miles, Killdeer is 30 miles,” said Bill Hale, Jr., resident and American Legion Post Commander.

Both were founded in the last decade and cut down 9-1-1 response times for the area significantly.

“At that time if we had a structure fire, or a car wreck, or an ambulance run It was a half hour minimum, and so it’s been essential. Now our response times are down to 5-10 minutes if it’s in town 15 minutes if it’s in the outlying areas,” said Marle Baker, fire chief.

The fire department was based in a local school and had outgrown the garage. The EMS was based out of a community hall. The extra space means more equipment and new options, like treating people at the station.

“We have availability of maybe taking care of some people here. We have a room that’s used for training but also is used for future use in telemedicine,” said Dr. Benji Kitagawa, medical director.

The medical service isn’t volunteer like many rural agencies. Kitagawa pays his staff and is developing a telemedicine program from Bismarck. Kitagawa says that while the revenue isn’t there yet, he hopes to make the EMS self-sufficient in years to come.

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