December 23, 2009

Above and beyond the call

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

It’s not uncommon for people to give 100 percent to their job, but for some people, like Kerry Krikava, giving only 100 percent is something they would never dream of.
As an EMT and Administrator of the Watford City Ambulance Service, Krikava’s job requires her to be a selfless and compassionate person. That combined with her kindness and extra dedication to the community makes her stand out as this year’s ‘Heart of Gold’ winner.
“Kerry’s dedication to the community and her ambulance team is outstanding,” says Karen Holte, who nominated Krikava for the McKenzie County Farmer’s annual ‘Heart of Gold’ award. “If someday I need an ambulance, I pray that I look up and see Kerry standing over me, as I know she will do whatever possible to save my life.”
Holte’s nomination letter stated, “Kerry has been a member of the ambulance squad for 25 years. She has taught many people to become volunteers on the ambulance and has guided them through many trials and tribulations with being on the ambulance. When they come back from a terrible call, Kerry always makes sure that the people who went on the call are okay. They debrief when they get back to the hall and if followup is needed, Kerry is sure to take care of it. Kerry keeps a deep down concern on her ambulance crew and lets every one of them know how important they are to the community and more so to her. She has kept her knowledge updated throughout her years of service. She is also always teaching a CPR class for a company or as a service to the people in the community who want to know it. Kerry has taught many other classes in regards to ambulance and first responders.”
Krikava began her career as an EMT in 1981 after an accident gave her a feeling she never wanted to have again.
“My dad was involved in an accident and I didn’t know what to do,” says Krikava. “I decided that was a feeling I never wanted to have again so I trained to become an EMT. The job just fit, so 28 years later here I am still enjoying the job.”
Krikava is known for going above and beyond the call of duty, whether it’s training new EMTs, volunteering in the community, teaching CPR classes or out walking with a friend, she always puts herself last.
“It doesn’t matter who is in need or what they need, Kerry is always willing to drop what she’s doing and help,” says Lynette Forbes, friend of Kirkava. “She even thinks about others while we’re out walking. We have to stay within running distance of the fire hall in case a call comes in. Our walks have been interrupted many times, but that’s just how it is with Kerry.”
Kirkava jokes that her walks are like going out with an old snowmobile, you can only take it out so far because you have to be sure it will get you back. But for many young EMTs, Kerry’s dedication is nothing to joke about.
“Kerry has trained many EMTs who have gone on to make this a career or stayed with the ambulance because of her,” says Ben Weltikol, Watford City Fire Chief. “She teaches in a way that it just sticks. Both of my boys were trained by her and every so often, they mention using something they learned from her. Her teaching makes people comfortable with what they are doing and they just keep going with it,”
As part of her job, Krikava trains new EMTs and teaches CPR in the community, something she takes very seriously.
“When it comes to training new EMTs I feel that it is much more important to have hands-on training, because book smarts will only get you so far,” comments Krikava. “Without the experience of hands-on training and a good heart, an EMT will only go so far.”
“Kerry gave me the courage to try a new career,” says Jay Wold, “As a teacher, she was encouraging. She used real life scenarios allowing us to be comfortable with our abilities and to be ready once we were in the field. In addition to her teaching, I found Kerry to be an inspiration in my life in the choice of my career in Emergency Medical Service. Kerry’s dedication and continuous hard work encouraged me to attend Paramedic school which led me to a lifelong career including flight paramedic, ambulance director and currently, Advanced Life Support Coordinator.”
Of course, Kirkava doesn’t think she’s done anything special, but that’s just part of her ‘Heart of Gold.’
“Having well trained EMTs is a great asset to me and the ambulance squad and you never know when a CPR class will end up helping out,” says Krikava. “Living in a rural area, it is crucial to have well educated people. There are times when it takes a long time to get help to people, so having someone on the other end who knows CPR can be a big help to us and even save a life.”
Kerry not only trains her EMTs well, she also takes good care of them, making sure that they are okay after each call.
“Feeling bad after a tough call is part of the job. If you don’t feel bad, you’re in the wrong line of work,” adds Krikava. “I feel bad like everyone else, but I’ve been doing it longer so I always make sure to talk with everyone to make sure they are okay. This is a tough job and if you don’t take care of your staff, you’ll lose them, no matter how good of an EMT they are.”
“Kerry’s job is a 24/seven thing and that’s just what she gives it,” says Weltikol. “She is a great asset to the ambulance and this community. She is always thinking of someone else before herself and that is just one of the things that makes her truly deserving of this award.”
When she’s not working with the ambulance or walking near the fire hall, Kirkava can often be found volunteering in the community or working with the McKenzie County Healthcare System.
“Kerry is someone who is always willing to help, day or night,” states Dan Kelly, McKenzie County Healthcare Systems CEO. “Truly, Kerry is someone who cares. Given the stressful scenarios in which one would come into contact with her, she puts families at ease. The ambulance service, the healthcare system and those of us in the community are truly blessed and much better off as a result of Kerry.”
When she’s not busy helping people in the community, Krikava enjoys spending time with her family, husband, Stephen, daughter, Joelle and her family, Jason, and their two daughters, Hailey and Maddie and son, Rusty, and his family, Peggy, and their children, Rusalyn and Kaden. She also enjoys baking and cooking, and doing anything crafty.
“I’m just awestruck that I received this award,” says Krikava. “There are so many others in this community who deserve this and I am just amazed that I’ve been chosen.”
The Farmer commends Kerry Krikava for all she has done for the community and all she will do in the future. Congratulations to someone who truly has a ‘Heart of Gold.’