Volunteer answers the call

Soland has spent the past 14 years on call day and night for the Bottineau Ambulance Service.

The calls could come in at any time, including on family outings with her two children.

“When they were little, if the pager went off, we’d say, ‘OK, we’re going to a call. Don’t get out of the car,” said Soland, an emergency medical technician for the ambulance squad. Her husband, Jeff Soland, is a first responder and the assistant fire chief for the Bottineau Rural Fire Department.

So far, neither her son and daughter, both of whom are now grown, has shown an interest in joining the family business, said Soland.

Soland said she first decided to volunteer for the ambulance squad back in the late 1990s, when she read an article in the local paper about the need for volunteers for the ambulance.

“I said, OK, I think I can do that,” said Soland, who had become certified in CPR the year before.

Soland said she had some interest in the sciences and had wanted to be a medical technologist when she was a teenager, although she ended up earning a clerical degree at Dakota College at Bottineau instead.

Her main interest is in helping others, she said.

“I love to give back to my community here,” she said.

Last year the Bottineau Ambulance Service responded to 427 calls. Soland doesn’t go out on every one, but she makes herself available when she has time. Dakota College at Bottineau is willing to let her take time away from her job to serve on the ambulance squad. She uses her personal vacation time during the time she’s away on call.

For a 911 call in Bottineau, she might be gone for one hour, but if it’ s a medical transfer to Minot, she might be gone four hours or more. Her co-workers have been understanding and have filled in for her when she’s away, she said.

Soland said there is really no such thing as a normal call for the ambulance service since there are many different circumstances.

The worst type of call is a car accident, she said.

“Being from a small community, we generally know someone who has been in that motor vehicle crash or we know a sibling or a parent and that’s the hardest part, especially if someone is killed in that accident,” said Soland. “And then to try to come back to work and focus and try to be normal, so to speak, that’s the hardest. You just never know when that 911 page goes off.”

Bottineau is such a small town that rumors are usually flying about who was in the accident before she returns to the office, said Soland. She isn’t allowed to talk about patients or the circumstances of an accident or an illness under patient confidentiality laws. Soland said her co-workers are always good about not asking her questions she can’t answer.

Soland said the best part of being an ambulance volunteer is knowing that she has helped someone in the community.

“It’s just so awesome to get a personal thank you card or a thank you (from someone who says) ‘thanks for taking good care of my mom’ or to see the little old lady who broke her hip and see her in six weeks in the grocery store,” said Soland. “That’s the rewarding part.”

The Solands live at Lake Metigoshe and are first responders in that community. Soland has also served in different positions on the ambulance board and serves on the Bottineau County Emergency Planning Committee. She helped organize an event held at Mystical Horizons a few weeks ago.

Serving as a volunteer on the ambulance squad also requires commitment outside the job.

“We need to have 48 hours of continuing education every two years,” said Soland.

The Bottineau Ambulance Squad is currently hiring two full-time, paid EMTs. The volunteer squad will continue to fill in during the hours that the full-time people aren’t able to be on call.

(Prairie Profile is a weekly feature profiling interesting people in our region. We welcome suggestions from our readers. Call Regional Editor Eloise Ogden at 857-1944 or Managing Editor Kent Olson at 857-1939. Either can be reached at 1-800-735-3229. You also can send e-mail suggestions to mdnews@minotdailynews.com.)