Memorial Service Set for Pioneer of Community Paramedic Program

January 02, 2018 02:29 PM

The paramedicine community has lost a pioneer.

Kai Hjermstad died unexpectedly at his Elko-New Market home on Thursday. He was 62. Doctors confirmed he suffered a cardiac event.

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"It was shocking. He didn't have heart trouble," said his widow, Karen Hjermstad.

Karen was home when her husband collapsed in the garage, and she called 911. She recognized the first responders who worked to save her husband's life, because he had trained some of them. 

Kai Hjermstad died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

Hjermstad's family say they are devoted to preserving his legacy of helping others. Kai Hjermstad helped create a program at Hennepin Technical College that trains students to not only be dispatched to emergencies, but work to prevent them too. 

Once certified, the advanced paramedics, called Community Paramedics, would target high-risk, chronically-ill patients who don't have access to the health care they need for one reason or another.

Kai Hjermstad shared that mission with Dr. Mike Wilcox, a longtime emergency medicine provider. "We can do it efficiently, we can do it less expensively than presently given to them through emergency visits, and they're more comfortable in home settings," he said.

Wilcox said that since the program started in 2007, nearly 300 students have become certified as community paramedics in Minnesota.  Another 800 have been trained nationwide.

A visitation for Hjermstad has been planned for Tuesday from 5-8 p.m. at White Funeral Home in Lakeville.

The memorial service will be Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Hosanna Lutheran Church.

A scholarship fund has been established to help community paramedics in training.  

Credits

Beth McDonough

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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