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Agtegra employees trained in emergency care through pilot program

May 03, 2022

When an emergency strikes in the rural Dakotas, it can take several minutes before emergency medical service personnel arrive to the scene. With much of the region considered medically underserved, a partnership between Agtegra and healthcare providers has become a step towards filling the need for more people trained to help in emergency situations. 

Enter the Dakota Responders training curriculum.  

In collaboration with Dr. Matt Owens of Redfield Community Memorial Hospital and the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine, Agtegra has become the first company to implement the Dakota Responders program, a curriculum created to train more people to provide emergency care for serious bleeding, opioid overdose and use of automated external defibrillators (AED).  

The curriculum was developed by an ad hoc group comprised of the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine, South Dakota State Medical Association, Northeast and West River Area Health Education Centers, Sanford Academic Affairs EMS Outreach and the Community Memorial Hospital. The group received funding through the U.S. Department of Labor and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to combat the emergency medical service crisis in South Dakota and improve health outcomes for rural residents, which the Dakota Responders program helps achieve. 

Through the training, Dr. Owens and additional healthcare professionals provide instruction in three life-saving areas. These include: 

  • Stop the Bleed, an initiative of the American College of Surgeons and the Hartford Consensus that trains individuals on how to properly stop bleeding 

  • Administering NARCAN®, a nasal spray used in treating opioid overdose 

  • AED operation 

Because of Agtegra’s footprint in rural eastern South Dakota, employees are well-positioned to provide life-saving care until EMS personnel can arrive. This is one of the reasons why the program was implemented in the cooperative.  

“Part of Agtegra’s mission is to have a strong presence and be a significant partner in our local communities,” said Beth Locken, Agtegra Director of Safety and Environmental. “We are always looking for ways to help empower and provide training to our employees, and this was an obvious way for us to have an impact in our communities and with our employees.” 

The first training was conducted for Redfield, Northville and Mellette location employees on Jan. 5. A total of seven training sessions will be held over the next few months to help reach the goal of training 100 employees. 

As part of the collaboration’s grant funding, “ditch kits” will soon be provided to trained employees. These kits will hold life-saving tools such as tourniquets so these employees will be equipped in case of emergency. 

Offering the Dakota Responders training to Agtegra employees goes beyond workplace safety. Trained individuals will have the ability to perform life-saving measures to individuals in need of immediate medical attention. Especially for the many communities in the region that are several minutes from the nearest healthcare facility, this could mean the difference between life or death. 

“As we encourage with First-Aid and CPR training for all of our employees, I would personally encourage this training for individuals because we all have families and loved ones that could need help in the blink of an eye,” said Locken. “In rural communities when our first responders arrive at the scene of an incident, it is quite often an individual they know from the community. By having the knowledge the class attendees receive, we can be equipped in our professional and personal lives to be able to provide assistance on a moment’s notice and feel comfortable doing so.” 



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