Globe Gazette, Mason City, Iowa
Beth Aschenbrenner likes to get to know her patients.
The paramedic for the Clear Lake Fire Department says she asks those she is transporting probing questions because she truly wants to know the person she is helping get through a bad day.
She also believes the conversation is a good coping mechanism for those taking the ambulance ride.
“I love older people and love being able to talk to them and hear their stories,” said Aschenbrenner, who has been an EMT/paramedic for 25 years. “We can learn so much from them. Where they grew up. What changes they’ve seen in their lifetimes.”
With a quarter of a century of medical experience, Aschenbrenner has come to see that having those conversations is a way to calm the patient and make the ride a little less stressful.
“We get called on a person’s worst day,” she said. “If we can help turn that around and help them not have to think about that and make them smile, we are doing our job.”
The right person
Laurel Yost has known Aschenbrenner since she was a little girl growing up and playing with her boys. Yost said it is amazing what her friend has accomplished.
Laurel Yost has also experienced the calming effect of Beth Aschenbrenner.
“In mid-September, she was one of the crew when I needed the ambulance,” she said. “It was very good to see her come to my door. To see her was such a comfort.”
Yost said she still jokes with Aschenbrenner about poking her four times with needles in her first ambulance ride.
“Thank God it was her that walked through my door,” Yost said.
The former patient says Aschenbrenner is “so good” at what she does and has a comforting manner that puts people at ease. That is why she nominated the paramedic for the Globe Gazette’s first responder honor.
“She’s confident and you feel comforted in her skills,” Yost said. “She’s very humble and is very dedicated to the communities in which she serves. She’s very deserving.”
More than 25 years ago, Aschenbrenner was working at Fleetguard in Lake Mills and was contemplating a new direction in her life. She said she had taken first aid and CPR classes and wanted to “use them or lose them.”
So she decided to give working on the ambulance in Lake Mills a try, to which she says, “lo and behold, here I am.”
While Aschenbrenner works full time with the Clear Lake Fire Department’s ambulance service, she also works for the Lake Mills ambulance service on her days off.
“Being a paramedic is my true love,” she said. “It’s all my family has known. I started when my oldest son was very young. This is me.”
When asked if the job was rewarding, Aschenbrenner said it was most of the time because she and other first responders are able to help people have positive outcomes.
She said it’s not all doom and gloom or blood and guts like depicted on TV.
“It is very rewarding when you have a nasty call and they survive and walk away with no deficiencies,” Aschenbrenner said. “It does your heart good.”
As for advice to others who might be considering a life as an EMT or paramedic, Aschenbrenner simply says it’s not going to be easy, but the rewards are many.
She wouldn’t change what she’s done the past 25 years for anything.
“Some of my best memories and best times are with my EMS family,” Aschenbrenner said. “We lean on each other. I’ve gained some very good friends for a lifetime. We are there for each other.”
Jerry Smith is sports editor and special projects editor for the Globe Gazette. You can reach him at email@example.com or by phone at 641-421-0556.
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