The Northern Michigan University Center for Rural Health announced the winners of its essay competition for high school seniors on National Rural Health Day Nov. 18. This year's topic was the shortage of paramedics and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel in the Upper Peninsula, which was exacerbated by the pandemic. Students were asked to address how EMS agencies and communities could interact and build and strengthen relationships that would enhance recruitment, retention and overall success.
“Once again, our high school seniors have embraced the opportunity to dive deeper into our rural challenges and pose potential solutions,” said Elise Bur, director of the NMU Center for Rural Health. “It's been an honor to host this essay competition again and celebrate National Rural Health Day throughout our region.”
Prizes for the top three finishers in each region were $500, $250 and $100. The winners are:
East: Kylie Goodman, Rudyard, 1st; Addie Berg, Sault Ste. Marie, 2nd; and Siersha Miller, Brimley, 3rd
Central: Olivia Bohl, Marquette, 1st; Abigail Racine, Ishpeming, 2nd; and Aiden Swanson, Marquette, 3rd
West: Madison Myhren, Ontonagon, 1st; Miranda Juntunen, Chassell, 2nd; and Makayla Johnson, Baraga, 3rd.
Here are excerpts from the first-place essays from each region:
“The heart of the issue lies in the perception of EMS personnel and the work that they do. A common misconception is that these workers simply transport people to the hospital or serve as “hospital taxis,” when in reality, they are the first to provide life-saving care to the patient. Furthermore, their training goes far beyond driving an ambulance—in fact, EMS staff may receive equal to if not more training than some nurses. To combat misconceptions, EMS agencies need to get more involved in their communities.” Olivia Bohl, Marquette
“When I moved across the street from my hometown's hospital, I see the sirens every day and night. I never knew how much Emergency Medical Services worked until I moved. Watching the helicopters come in almost every week is amazing to me and being able to catch sight of these strong, hard-working men and women fighting to save people's lives is truly astounding. If it were to come to one day where communities don't have these EMTs, the world would be chaotic.” Kylie Goodman, Rudyard
“For years now EMS has had severe shortages of staff. When Covid19 hit, the shortage of workers became worse. It seems crazy to hear those agencies are just closing. Many agencies have had to close or join other agencies. What happens when an agency closes? Another agency will now have to cover a wider range of areas. With the lack of agencies available, it will now be a longer wait for help to get to you.” Madison Myhren, Ontonagon
All winning essays may be viewed on the NMU Center for Rural Health website at https://nmu.edu/ruralhealth/essay-contest.
“It was so inspiring reading the thoughtful and creative responses to such an important and timely issue facing our rural EMS communities,” said Andrea Abbas, EMS programs manager for the Michigan Center for Rural Health. “Thank you for your consideration and thoughtful responses. It was a pleasure reading every essay submission."
The contest was sponsored by the NMU Center for Rural Health, the Michigan Center for Rural Health, and the U.P. Area Health Education Center.