Second annual Rescue Divas camp is underway

Ashland Daily Press 6/15/2016
By Sara Chase

The Rescue Divas EMS Summer Camp for Girls is back for its second year.

A total of 20 girls are attending this year’s camp – four eighth graders, eight seventh graders and eight sixth graders – representing six out of the nine area schools in Ashland and Bayfield Counties.

“Rescue Divas EMS Summer Camp for Girls is all about exciting and educating girls about careers and volunteer opportunities in Emergency Medical Services (EMS),” said Northwest Wisconsin CEP Focused Initiatives Manager and volunteer EMT with the Washburn Area Ambulance Carrie Okey. “Rescue Divas is a new and unique way to address the growing shortage of EMTs in our area, although this is a bigger statewide (and even nationwide) issue.”

Okey explained that Rescue Divas also aims to increase the number of women in EMS.

“Only 35 percent of EMTs in the United States are women, while only four percent of firefighters are women,” she said. “The higher you go in rank or level of care, the fewer women you find represented.”

Okey said the mission of Rescue Divas is to open doors to a world that many girls (or people in general) are never exposed to without being in crisis.

“Girls attending Rescue Divas also get certified in CPR and First Aid, which is very important to the Steering Committee,” she said. “Rescue Divas go back to their communities with a spark of interest in EMS as well as practical skills to help those in need.”

Okey said the Rescue Divas program has a lot more supporters and volunteers this year, as people who were touched by the first Rescue Divas have been excited to help keep the program going.

“Our first year of Rescue Divas was amazing,” she said. “This year we don’t want to disappoint, so we made sure to load up on even more fun, hands-on activities, with the opportunity for the girls to connect to tons of area EMS workers/volunteers.”

Okey said that while they’ve kept plenty from last year there have been some changes.

“The biggest difference is that our location has changed from Northland College to Camp Northwoods,” she said. “We wanted more of a true camp feel and to get the girls to experience something totally different.”

Okey said it has definitely helped to give the experience much more of a “camp” feel.

Okey said some of this year’s highlights would include a visit from the Sawyer County Search and Rescue with their Canine Unit and drones, a Mason High Angle Rescue Demonstration at camp and field trips to the Bayfield County Sheriff’s Dispatch Center, the Washburn Area Ambulance Hall, the Ashland Fire Department and MMC.”

Director of the Washburn Area Ambulance Service Dan Clark visited the Divas Camp on Monday afternoon and talked to the girls about what it’s like to be an EMT and then took the girls out for a short ride — siren and all.

Washburn EMT and Diva counselor Evelynn Dax sat in the back of the ambulance with the girls, fielded questions and told them about the inside of the ambulance and the equipment they use, such as longboards, spinal immobilization bags with extra spider straps, alcohol prep pads, trauma sponges, Band-Aids and teddy bears that they give to young patients.

“Kids aren’t little adults; everything about them is different,” said Dax referencing a chart showing pediatric vitals.

“We want to make sure that we’re providing the proper care,” she said adding that they don’t transport a ton of kids.

Dax explained that the rig is cleaned after every single call they go on.

The ever-elusive Life Link helicopter was scheduled to stop by the camp on Monday afternoon following the Washburn Area Ambulance’s visit but was unable to come due to the weather. Last year Life Link was turned away due to a medical emergency that required their immediate attention. Okey said she had scheduled Life Link’s visit early enough in the week for this year that she is hopeful to work them in within the next few days of the camp, despite any possible scheduling conflicts.

Okey said she wanted people in the community to understand that there is a growing shortage of EMTs in our area, a problem that needs to be addressed.

“We need more people in our communities to take the EMT class and start volunteering with their local service,” she said. “If not now, then when? If not you, then who? Without the help of our friends, family members, and neighbors we may reach a time where ambulance services are no longer able to respond as expected.”

Okey said everyone was having a fun and exciting week at camp.

“Learning and growing as campers, middle school students and the future of our communities,” she said. “Camp is just the beginning for these girls — watch them grow into strong smart leaders in EMS and beyond!”

Okey noted that the Rescue Divas EMS Summer Camp for Girls is made possible by funding and support from Northwest Wisconsin CEP, Northwest Wisconsin AHEC, St. Luke’s, Essentia, Life Link III, Memorial Medical Center and the Ashland Education Fund.

“Rescue Divas wouldn’t exist without the help of a small, but dedicated group,” she said. “Thank you, Mary Zinnecker – Northwest Wisconsin CEP, Dan Clark – Bayfield County Sheriff’s Department and Washburn Area Ambulance and Erika Kurtz – Memorial Medical Center!”

Okey said that anyone interested in helping or any businesses that are interested in contributing to Rescue Divas should contact her at

For more information visit Rescue Divas online at or find them on Facebook at Rescue Divas.

Original Article From Ashland Daily Press: Second annual Rescue Divas camp is underway