Written by Mary Napier, Editor, Missouri EMS Connection
Photos provided by MCAD
Mercer County Ambulance District (MCAD) is located in Princeton, Missouri at the junction of US Highway 65 and US Highway 136 in the northcentral portion of Missouri. The county seat is Princeton. While learning more about this ambulance district, I came up with a few words that are embodied by MCAD, including: service, longevity, community, and Calamity Jane. You will have to read on if you want to know more about that last one.
MCAD provides advanced life support service to Mercer County. The county started running an ambulance service in the 1970s. A petition to create the district was brought forth Aug. 16, 1982, and the district was voted in and formed April 12, 1983.
These days, the service transports about 800-900 patients a year while providing lift assists, treat and release, or standbys for another 300-400 per year. Mercer County Fire Protection District also responds with MCAD on accidents and rescues.
The ambulance district has one station located in Princeton, which includes a business office, crew quarters, and a training area. The crew consists of six full-time paramedics, one part-time paramedic/RN, two part-time RNs, and two part-time EMTs. Responses are handled with three first out units and two others as backup. The first three are E450 large box modules, a 2019 and two 2021 units. The backups are a four-wheel drive F series and an older E450 Road Rescue, they can pull up when a first out is down for maintenance or repairs. According to Director Doug Priest, they have a lot of deer in the area, so backup units are important.
The crew members hold certifications such as ACLS, PALS, PHTLS, AMLS, and Critical Care Paramedic/Community Paramedic. Protocols for the service include: adult and pediatric RSI, facilitated airway management, COVID home and transport advanced care, sepsis, adult I/O, 12 lead, Time Critical STEMI Stroke, tranexamic acid (TXA) severe hemorrhage, and AMI protocols include prehospital Berlinta or Plavix, Heprin bolus/drip, Metoprolol, and Nitro gtt. The crews are supported by Medical Director Dr. Tammy Hart.
Director Priest explained, “We staff two crews with two ALS providers as much as we can. We are a long way to the closest hospital. Everything isn’t cut and dry, so having an advanced level partner to confirm something with really helps. Dr. Tammy Hart has done a great job!”
The population of Mercer County is about 3,600 people making it the second-least populated county in Missouri. While the population number might be lower than most other ambulance districts, the longevity and experience of the crew at MCAD is impressive. The crew members include: Shane Grooms, paramedic since 1993; Doug DeVore, paramedic since 1998; Gary Porter, paramedic since 2003; Shaun DeVore, paramedic since 2008; Dakota Thompson, paramedic since 2012; and Doug Priest, paramedic since 1992. If you do the math, that is a total of 126 years of experience as paramedics (not counting EMS experience before they became paramedics).
When the pandemic hit, MCAD realized quickly that this is the situation they were dealt, and they had to take it on. They now provide clinical guidelines symptoms and response, home care instruction, response with home treatment, and transport/treatment.
Since the pandemic started, all crew members have stayed on and helped. Priest mentioned that DeVore has been in EMS since 1981 and was going to retire in March 2020. He postponed his retirement and stayed to work through the pandemic as long as he could. He finally retired in February 2022. This dedication is shared among the crew members.
When you talk about a tight-knit community like Mercer County, the community really supports the service and appreciates all they do.
In the community, MCAD teaches CPR and first aid, provides standby at sporting events, and puts on mock accidents. They also encourage EMS and the healthcare field with ride-along opportunities for seniors. Their training entity provides CEUs, EMT, and first responder classes.
The six-member board of the ambulance district is also very active with MCAD and provides a wide diversity of perspectives and assistance, including: business management, professional purchasing, CPA, farming, and equipment operations. Director Priest said, “They all have used the ambulance for themselves and/or family members, and they are our biggest supporters. They come together to help me solve problems and provide lasting financial security for our district.”
You might still be wondering what Calamity Jane has to do with Mercer County. Well, Calamity Jane was born, Martha Jane Canary, on May 1, 1852 in Princeton, Missouri. She was a well-known American frontierswoman and sharpshooter who preferred men’s clothing to dresses. Throughout her life, she moved all over the United States, worked a variety of jobs, and was known to spread salacious rumors about herself. She rode with real cowboys like General Custer, Wild Bill Hickok, and Buffalo Bill Cody. She also appeared in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show as a storyteller.
While Calamity Jane was tough as nails, she had something in common with the crew members of MCAD. She never hesitated to help others or nurse them back to health especially during a smallpox epidemic in Deadwood, South Dakota. It was said that she was always open to helping others no matter their circumstances.
Every September, the community members of Princeton and Mercer County celebrate Calamity Jane, one of the most notorious figures of the Old West, with great food, a parade, vendors, the shootout gang, a melodrama, and a golf tournament. This celebration comes just a few weeks after Mercer’s Homecoming, which is their Labor Day weekend parade, races, music, and more.
Along with these community events, the area offers experiences for its residents and visitors. The Stacy Center offers year-round indoor swimming, gym, weightlifting, and exercising. The great outdoors offer conservation areas, lakes, hiking, camping, and hunting. One such area is the Lake Paho Conservation Area in central Mercer County. The lake was built in the late 1940s and was opened to public fishing in 1951. The 273-acre lake was named “Paho” from the Indian word meaning “first” or “number one” as the area is rich in Native American history. The many prairie plants around the area are enjoyed by its visitors along with its other attractions.
For hunting, hunters visit the area for spring and fall turkey hunting, archery deer, and turkey. The large Missouri deer make fall rifle deer season a favorite time of the year.
Whether you want to hunt, explore the great outdoors, visit Calamity Jane’s birthplace, or stop and meet some of the long-standing crew members of MCAD, Mercer County is a great place to visit the next time you are in northcentral Missouri.
To view the article as it appeared in the magazine, click here.