New ambulance director brings 'unique perspective'
The morning of Tuesday, Nov. 7, was quiet at the Lake County Ambulance Service (LCAS) station in Two Harbors, where its new executive director, Derrick Bruestle, is busy learning the ropes of the organization.
Bruestle started at LCAS in October after moving to the area in July. He brings a different experience to the organization than most people entering similar positions.
Bruestle doesn't have a background in emergency medical services or as a paramedic; instead, he brings more administrative experience. He's interested in raising the profile of LCAS in the community.
"I had always entertained the idea of doing something nonprofit," he said. "I like to see very tangible results for the work you put in and it seemed like a good way to do it."
Bruestle has a political science degree with concentrations in public administration and business management from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. He also completed a three-year enlistment in the Army and was deployed to Afghanistan.
He obtained emergency medical training in the military. His focus, however, will be on the administrative side.
"I think what was attractive about my experience was that I brought a broader perspective on the administrative side of things," Bruestle said. "Everyone that works here does a really great job. It's not just a paycheck for them; it's a passion project. No one gets into this line of work for the paycheck."
In addition to all his administrative duties with LCAS, Bruestle also hopes to get the organization more involved in safety and educational initiatives around the county.
LCAS was instrumental over the last year in providing CPR classes in Two Harbors that helped the city earn its "Heart Safe Community" designation.
Certification requires cities the size of Two Harbors to place at least six automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in public areas and to have at least four CPR/AED training courses throughout the year to help increase the number of certified residents.
LCAS worked with the city and Lake View Hospital to provide the CPR training.
"A lot of my job is going to be about how we can fit more into the community and how we can use our role to support this community, whether by expanding the scope of the courses that we offer, such as getting everyone certified for CPR, or community outreach," Bruestle said. "We're working on programs that will build social capital as well as preventative health."
LCAS is also looking to take over the bike safety training — last provided by the Two Harbors Police Department — and other programs to help kids and others stay safe and healthy.
Another benefit of Bruestle's new job in Two Harbors is the access it gives to Lake Superior and the outdoor activities on the North Shore, something he missed growing up near the Twin Cities.
"I've always been an outdoors guy stuck in the city, so it's been great to finally get up here, spread my wings a bit and get out on the trails," he said. "If you can find a way to live up here and make a living, you've made it, as far as I'm concerned."