North Shore Health ambulance crew share stories on WTIP
Matthew Baxley
Community Voices

North Shore Health ambulance crew share stories on WTIP

After a staffing shortage at the local hospital in Grand Marais last summer led to challenges in responding to emergency calls, including having the hospital administrator driving the ambulance, things have improved in recent months.

In May 2022, WTIP reported that Kimber Wraalstad, the hospital administrator at North Shore Health in Grand Marais, was driving the ambulance when medical staff were responding to emergency calls. That situation, Wraalstad maintains, was done out of necessity, but is something that’s not entirely unique to health care facilities across Minnesota that are also facing staffing shortages. Other hospital CEOs across the state are also stepping in and providing whatever services are needed to keep their medical facilities functioning, she said.

During the past 15 months, more people have been hired to work for the local ambulance service, which is based at North Shore Health. The current roster for the ambulance staff is about 25 people, according to officials at North Shore Health. Five of those are paramedics, and 12 are emergency medical technicians. Last May, there were only two paramedics on staff.

During WTIP’s fall membership drive, a collection of employees from North Shore Health, including emergency medical technicians from the local ambulance crew, visited the radio station to share stories from their work, including saving people’s lives in Cook County.

On the program were Wraalstad, ambulance team members Ben Belland, Shalom Richardson, and Chris Thompson. Also on the show via Zoom was Karla Pankow, the EMS director at North Shore Health. Listen to the full program in the audio shared below.

Click here to watch a video of WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs riding in an ambulance from the radio station parking lot in Grand Marais to nearby Cutface Creek.