July 18, 2012

Mrachek honored as county’s Emergency Responder of the Year

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

Joe Mrachek has been serving his community of Alexander for over 30 years in more than one capacity. And according to McKenzie County Emergency Disaster Coordinator Jerry Samuelson, “We need more people like him,” which is why he was chosen to receive the 2012 McKenzie County Emergency Responder of the Year award.
“It’s not very often that you find someone as involved in their community on a volunteer basis,” Samuelson states.
Mrachek started his volunteer emergency service with the Alexander Fire Department in 1980. Sometime later, he encountered an incident that made him aware of the need for a First Responders Unit in Alexander.
“We were at a fire and the owner’s shop was burning. As he got to the door, the fire exploded and he collided with the door,” Mrachek states. “No one was trained in first aid or as an EMT.”
In the fall of 1984, Mrachek began training to be an EMT. When he completed his hours in the spring of 1985, someone from the Williston Ambulance Service got him thinking about starting a First Responders in Alexander.
A first responder unit can’t transport people to the hospital, so it’s their job to respond to an accident ahead of the ambulance and get the patient stabilized.
“It normally takes about 25 minutes on the scene to get someone stabilized,” Mrachek states. “It also takes an ambulance around 25 to 35 minutes to arrive. So without the First Responders, a person can spend around one hour receiving treatment at the scene, where with the First Responders a person can already be en route to the hospital in that time frame.”
In addition to serving on the Alexander Fire Department and the Alexander First Responders, Mrachek also serves as a McKenzie County Reserve Deputy. He served as the Alexander Assistant Fire Chief for 28 years, retiring in 2008, and recently retired from the Alexander City Council after serving for 19½ years. Though retired, he still works three days a week in Williston as a diesel mechanic.
“I was totally floored when I was named as the 2012 Emergency Responder of the Year,” states Mrachek. But his wife says she was not surprised at all.
“He was very deserving of the award,” states Paula Mrachek.
Samuelson agrees.
“Joe does it for the love of his community,” states Samuelson. “There have been times where an ambulance has arrived at the scene of an accident and Joe was the only one there. He is definitely someone that can be counted on.”
Which is what the people of the Alexander community and McKenzie County need in these challenging times.
“These last nine months have been the worst nine months that I’ve seen in 20 years for emergency responders,” states Mrachek. “With the oilfield, the calls are becoming more frequent and worse in nature.”
But the huge increase in emergency calls won’t deter Mrachek, though. At least not at this point. He intends to keep serving his community in the same capacity for as long as he can.