Ashland Daily Press: Rescue Divas recruiting campers for third annual session

By Sara M. Chase on Apr 11, 2017

See original article on the Daily Press website.

Registration is going on through April 21 for the third annual Rescue Divas EMS (Emergency Medical Services) Summer Camp for Girls.

The event is a five-day residential camp experience, focusing on educating middle school girls about careers or volunteer positions in Emergency Medicine. The program aims to help ‘rescue’ the future of emergency medical services by encouraging the girls to explore EMS opportunities through hands-on activities that focus on a variety of skills and knowledge needed in Emergency Medical careers.

“Rescue Divas EMS Summer Camp for Girls was born from a love of EMS, but more importantly, a recognition that it is getting increasingly difficult to recruit new EMTs, especially in our rural communities,” said founder/camp director Carrie K. Okey. “Rescue Divas is a long-range effort to get more people interested in helping their communities by becoming EMTs and working with their local ambulance services.”

Okey said that they chose to focus the camp on girls as they are historically underrepresented in EMS.

“Many reports show that only one in three EMTs is female,” she said. “By increasing opportunities for girls to be exposed to and educated about EMS, we are hoping to increase the number of women in the EMS workforce.

“Additionally, we hope that our message resonates with other people and sparks them to look into the EMS needs of their community and offer to step forward and help out. ‘If not you, then who? If not now, then when?’”

Okey said that according to the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians, men make up roughly 70 percent of the occupation while statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services place the ratio at 65 percent male and 35 percent female.

“Rescue Divas EMS Summer Camp for Girls is a fun way to expose middle school girls to career and volunteer opportunities in Emergency Medical Services,” she said. “Girls get to participate in lots of exciting EMS-related activities like canine search and rescue and flight medic/air ambulance services.”

The campers also get to visit real dispatch centers, fire/ambulance departments, hospital emergency rooms, and more. Throughout the week, the girls will participate in exploratory, hands-on activities that focus on a variety of skills and knowledge needed in Emergency Medical careers.

“They also leave with hard skills … they can bring back to their families and communities,” Okey said, adding that during the week they will receive training in First Aid, CPR and AED use.

Since this is the third annual camp, there have been some changes as Okey said they want to keep growing and evolving to keep camp interesting and exciting. Previously, the camp was only open to girls in Ashland and Bayfield counties, but this year it’s expanded to new counties as well.

“This year, we have opened camp up to girls from some of our southern counties,” Okey said, explaining that the camp is open to girls currently in sixth, seventh, or eighth grades who reside in Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Iron, Rusk, Sawyer and Washburn Counties. “We have also added a lesson in self-defense and are partnering with NorthLakes Community Clinic to discuss healthcare and healthcare careers in northern Wisconsin.”

She said that while there are a few more changes, they want to have some surprises up their sleeves.

This year the Rescue Divas EMS Summer Camp for Girls will be held June 11 -15 at Camp Northwoods in Mason.

“Applications are due April 21st and we can host 20 middle-school girls,” Okey said. “Campers pay $35, as Rescue Divas is funded by AHEC (Area Health Education Center), WITC, (Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College) RTAC (Regional Trauma Advisory Council), Life Link III, MMC (Memorial Medical Center), and the Bayfield County Sheriff’s Department.”

Applications and more info can be accessed online at or to learn more email or like the Divas on Facebook at Rescue Divas.

Rescue Divas is put on by Northwest Wisconsin CEP (CEP) with funding from Northwest Wisconsin Area Health Education Centers (NWAHEC).

“We are also very fortunate to have many other partners that provide either additional financial assistance or other contributions including Memorial Medical Center, Bayfield-Ashland County EMS Council, Life link III, WITC, RTAC and more,” said Mary Zinnecker, Information Manager Northwest Wisconsin CEP.