Maxwell’s EMS Chief steps down but will remain as a responder

Marlys Barker, Editor
Maxwell’s new EMS chief, Shelby Patterson, left, is pictured with retiring EMS Chief Nancy Pritchard. Pritchard does intend to remain a member of the EMS unit in Maxwell. Photo Contributed

After eight years as Maxwell’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) chief, Nancy Pritchard is stepping down.

While she plans to remain a member of Maxwell’s EMS team, Pritchard, 55, said working a full-time job that puts her outside of Maxwell for nine hours a day didn’t give her the time needed to serve as chief any longer.

Pritchard is now the community service officer, working with animal control and other tasks, for the Nevada Public Safety Department in Nevada. After giving the Maxwell City Council a month’s notice about her intentions, she officially stepped down as chief of EMS on Sept. 8.

The council appointed Shelby Patterson, a five-year member of the EMS team in Maxwell to replace Pritchard as chief. “He’s been my assistant chief for several years,” Pritchard said. “He’ll do a good job. He’s very confident in his skills. He’s a good leader. He’ll be able to guide the new people (that join EMS).”

Patterson said, “After moving to Maxwell and marrying into the Hudson family, I was able to see how they served the community of Maxwell on the Fire Department and EMS. I knew that was something I wanted to do.”

He started on the fire department and then, in 2013, enrolled in EMT school with his wife. “We became full members of the EMS department at the beginning of 2014 and have been active members ever since. I am excited to continue serving the community on the platform that Chief Pritchard has established as the newest chief of the Maxwell EMS,” he said.

Pritchard said she plans to help Patterson however he needs it until he’s fully settled in.

Looking back, Pritchard, a native of Maxwell, said it was a very small EMS unit when she joined it 10 years ago. “There were only two other people — Mick Cairns and Kristy Evans — when I started,” she said.

At that time, EMS was under the fire department and wasn’t meeting compliance with state regulations with its administrative paperwork and other details. Pritchard said much of that was due to a lack of resources.

“I took the reigns to bring us up to regulations, and by doing that, I gained knowledge and after a year-and-a-half, I was elected chief,” she said. The EMS team was up to five members when she became chief, but they were always willing to take more.

“We needed more (responders) because we have calls at all hours of the day and night, and you don’t want to burn out responders … we needed to spread it out a little bit,” she said. “We spread the word as much as we could – put it in the newsletter, put it on Facebook and slowly people started stepping up.”

She’s pleased that the EMS now has eight members who are certified EMTs, and two members who are waiting to test for certification. Plus, the team has three helpers

Also, an interesting part of Pritchard’s past is the fact that she was the first female Story County fire chief in 2012-2013. “It was controversial,” she said but doesn’t elaborate. She actually served on the fire department for a total of four years but gave up firefighting to concentrate on the EMS side, which she was passionate about.

“Helping people,” she said, “that’s why I got on (EMS) and why I stayed on.” She said it’s a hard job and an emotionally challenging job to do in a small town, where you have so many personal connections.

“We’ve had young folks that we’ve lost; I’ve had classmates that I’ve had to treat… It’s a small town, so the people you treat are people you know well.”

Going forward, Pritchard, because of her job in Nevada during the days will be more likely to take EMS calls in the evening and at night.

She said the two things she’s not going to miss about being chief are the paperwork and attending council meetings, as she’s attended most of them during the years.

“This council actually has been very supportive and great to EMS, so I will miss the people, just not meetings,” she clarified.

Another person she wants to give a shout out to is Fire Chief Tony Ness. “He has been excellent to work with and is also a helper with EMS. Having a good working relationship with the fire chief makes everything easier because we share a station. We need to be a team.”

As she goes forward, Pritchard said it’s going to be nice to be a member of EMS and not be the one in charge. “As chief, you’re responsible for the actions of everybody on your team. If they mess up, you’re responsible for that. Not having that pressure will be nice.”