Medical Response Unit aims to save lives in Winneshiek County - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Medical Response Unit aims to save lives in Winneshiek County

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DECORAH (KWWL) -

Jeff Carolan, a reserve deputy sheriff in Winneshiek County, also boasts more than 30 years experience as a paramedic, so it seemed like a no-brainer to combine his two skill sets.

And it's a big win for people living in Winneshiek County.  With more than 1,300 square miles to cover, emergency services can sometimes take a bit longer than in less rural areas.  It doesn't help that the county is lacking volunteer responders in some parts.

Usually in emergency calls, deputies from the Sheriff's office are the first to arrive.  So they've outfitted Carolan with the equipment a paramedic would have, giving him the chance to start treating and making medical decision minutes before first responders might get there.

"It absolutely could mean the difference between life and death for somebody's loved one. And that's really what it comes down to," said Sheriff Dan Marx.

It was an easy call for Marx to make.  They have a great working relationship with the local hospital, he said, and they provide the equipment.  And since Carolan is already a certified paramedic, his new role in the Medical Response Unit is simply an extension of existing services, rather than a replacement.  That means there's an extra set of hands doing the work at little to no cost to the people of Winneshiek County.

"It's really nothing more than that--taking advantage of a person's skills that he brings to us, and giving him the tools he needs to carry out those skills and help someone in need," Marx said.

As for Carolan--he's excited for his new role and the chance to potentially save lives.

"So I think what I'm able to do is bring a lot of advantages to a lot of these medical calls that are in rural areas that enhances the ability to save lives," Carolan said.

For now, his services will only be available when he's on patrol.  But Marx and Carolan think it's a great start, and both say they would love to see more deputies become certified paramedics--just another way to serve the people they work hard to protect.

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