Prior to Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) ambulance services were usually run by mortuaries. Clearwater County's Ambulance Service began in 1972 when Dr. Maurice Masar taught the first EMT class. Response in Orofino was with a Chevy van and transfers were made to Spokane hospitals with a Pontiac station wagon.

EMTs were a result of the large number of wounded in Vietnam and training people received there.

Women became a part of the EMT ranks in 1973 and have been vital since.

Originally Basic EMT training took 70 hours. That has increased to 120 hours. Advanced certification takes an additional 60 hours. First Responders need 60 hours of training and Drivers must have current CPR certification.

Nick Albers, then Clearwater County Sheriff, was the first director when the service was a part of that department. Shawn Kaufman was the second director. Leonard Eckman and Les Eaves followed as directors three and four, respectively.

Five EMTs were trained in the first class. That has grown to 69 compensated volunteers from all walks of life. There are now eight ambulances and a "jump" car that allows medical personnel to get to the scene faster than the ambulance with the basic equipment they need.

More volunteers are always needed. They must be 18 or older and be able to pass a criminal background check and test. Those who complete EMT training are expected to be willing to go out with the ambulance, keep their education current and attend meetings of the organization.

Clearwater County Ambulance Service also offers First Aid and CPR training. Contact them at 208-476-3771 for arrangements.