Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - When you see an ambulance racing to an accident scene, you’re seeing the finely tuned cooperation between Missoula Police and Fire, along with Missoula Emergency Services, Incorporated.

Known by the acronym MESI, Missoula Emergency Services, Incorporated brings “high-quality, unsubsidized, paramedic-level ambulance service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to the 73,000 residents of the city of Missoula and many of the 120,000 residents of Missoula county. With 10 ambulances, one ALS supervisor response car, one medical stand-by event trailer, and an UTV, MESI responds to approximately 11,000 emergency dispatches each year while also providing mutual aid for Granite, Powell, Ravalli, Lake, and Mineral Counties,” according to their website.

Missoula Emergency Services, Incorporated Responds to Thousands of Incidents

I spoke recently with Don Whalen, manager for Missoula Emergency Services after writing a story about the upcoming construction project on U.S. Highway 93 South between Missoula and Lolo, and how emergency responders would be able to reach an accident scene with both speed and safety.

Whalen said construction planners always factor in the possibility of an accident to provide access for emergency responders.

Contractors Keep MESI Informed About Upcoming Projects

“Construction projects like this, they're pretty good about either Montana Department of Transportation or the construction company, whoever's doing it, will usually give us a notice that it's going to happen and what the effects are going to be, usually through email. Then, we email that out to all of our crews so they know,” began Whalen.

Not long ago, Highway 93 was virtually shut down in both directions after a semi-truck loaded with landscaping materials crashed and blocked both sides of the highway. Whalen said in such an instance, Missoula Emergency Services would do all it could to respond as quickly as possible.

MESI Will Find a Way to Respond to an Emergency

“They (the contractors) usually always have some sort of a plan for us to get through any construction project,” he said. “Of course, when the highway shut down, it's difficult to get through, like the case you just referenced, I mean worst case scenario, if we couldn't get through period, we'd have to send a helicopter to come in, or have an ambulance on the other end meet us and transfer patients to get them to Missoula. Luckily, it has not been an issue, and we've been able to get people to the scene.”

Whalen asked us to pass along vital information to drivers in such a situation.

“Two things come to mind,” he said. “First is to pull over to the right and let us get by safely and also to slow down. Those are the biggest risks for us. You know, slow down, and be safe. But, to be honest with you, the public's been pretty good about getting out of the way. They're pretty good about slowing down, so I don't really have any complaints, especially since people know we're trying to get somewhere to help somebody.”

Whalen said Missoula Emergency Services has exceptional cooperation agreements with all the area’s first responders.

MESI is a Vital Part of Keeping Missoula Safe

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“We have co-responders,” he said. “Obviously, the fire departments here in Missoula and Missoula Rural, Frenchtown, Clinton, you name it. We have a tiered response. They're usually the first ones to get there, and then we come from two locations here in Missoula to get there. We train together and we work very well together, and they're very helpful. So, if they get to a scene before we do, they'll give us directions that expedite us getting there as quickly and safely as possible.”

Find out more about Missoula Emergency Services, Incorporated (MESI) here.

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