The Saratoga Sun -

20 years an EMT

Kostovny honored for 20 years service, credited with helping create SCWEMS


“I have been with Mark since 2008 and he is an amazing instructor and I have learned so much from him,” Tracy Fowler, South Central Wyoming Emergency Medical Services (SCWEMS) volunteer, said about Mark Kostovny. “I think we would be lost with him.”

“For a national registered EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) 20 years is a long time,” Jennifer Cruickshank, a SCWEMS volunteer said.

“He loves this and we are called Mark’s Girls,” Fowler said. “He has taught me so much for being an EMT and I will cry on the day he retires although I don’t see it coming anytime soon.”

Both Fowler and Cruickshank say Mark brings a calmness to the department and people he helps when he is on a call.

“He is so compassionate and he is the guy who gets down on his hands and knees with the patients to see the look on their faces so he can reassure them and ask, ‘What do you need us to do?’” said Fowler.

“He is our calming force on all fronts,” said Donna Pipher, a volunteer with SCWEMS.

Mark was recently recognized by SCWEMS for his 20 years of service served in Carbon County.

Heidi Sifford, SCWEMS Director, presented a plaque to him on Oct. 14 at the Hanna fire station where he was surrounded by family, neighbors, friends and colleagues.

The group of well wishers started a barbecue reception for Mark at 1:30 p.m. but the guest of honor did not make it to the reception until a hour later, because he was called away on a SCWEMS emergency.

His wife Beth was happy of the recognition given to her husband.

“I am very proud of him. He spent a lot days and nights doing this,” Beth said. “I think the best thing I can say about what Mark has done in helping SCWEMS, is if I was in need, I would want one of these wonderful people to help me.”

She said the calming influence he brings to SCWEMS is evident in his home life.

“He cares about people and he is a mentor,” Beth said. “I consider Mark a mentor.”

Beth said she met Mark when she was going to college in Chadron, Nebraska when his job in Pennsylvania (his birthplace) was sent out west. Their meeting led to 37 years of marriage and one daughter, Sarah. They moved to Hanna 26 years ago and he got involved with the fire department then the ambulance service.

“He loves helping people, so it was natural he would go from fire department to EMTs.” Beth said.

A new member to SCWEMS was impressed going out on her first call with Mark on the afternoon of his recognition.

“This was my first call with him and he was really patient with me,” Brenda Cox, a new volunteer said. “He was really great with patient care. He has genuine compassion and you can tell he really cares.”

Fowler and Pipher credit him with being a reason SCWEMS is even in existence.

“When Hanna lost their EMS, there was nothing here, it became Mark’s goal to get Hanna, Medicine Bow and Elk Mountain some kind of coverage, so he went to the County Commissioners and formed the joint powers board,” Pipher said. “He is the founder of SCWEMS although he will say many others helped.”

After Hanna EMS was shut down, Mark would go to Saratoga and run calls there with their ambulance service. He got to know the people who worked there during this time and felt good about his service in that town, but he still wanted to have EMTs in northern Carbon County.

Mark approached not only the County Commissioners but all the town councils to get them on board.

Mark said, he was not the only person who helped form SCWEMS and he gives credit to the people who joined in him in efforts to operation going.

“The Hanna fire department and ambulance service in Hanna were excellent, but as political times change, they didn’t see eye to eye with political leaders, so they shut down,” Mark said. “I wasn’t ready to quit yet and I knew the community still needed the service.”

While working with Saratoga ambulance service, Mark came up with the joint powers board idea because he realized all the communities needed the EMT service.

Mark put together a business plan based on Hanna’s EMS service and at the same time Carbon County was looking at getting services back in the northern part of the county. Mark credits Troy Maddox, a Medicine Bow councilman at the time, for getting the County Commissioners to listen to Mark’s business plan for SCWEMS. A task force was created and a study that had just been completed by the state found a hole in service for the Arlington to Elk Mountain I-80 corridor. Mark said concurrently Saratoga wanted to get out of the ambulance business and the town felt SCWEMS would good to join.

SCWEMS went into operation in 2010.

Many at the reception related Mark can be in the thick of it with blood and guts, but cannot look at his own blood.

Both his wife and daughter have stories of him cutting himself and almost fainting.

“He absolutely does not like the sight of his blood,” Sarah said.

Mark said when he joined the fire department, he had concerns about seeing blood. It turns out it is only his blood that makes him queasy.

“Seeing your blood is not going to bother me, but mine does,” Mark laughs.

Sarah says she feels blessed having the parents she does and is really happy with the recognition her father is receiving for his time as an EMT. Sarah went further to say how positive he has been on her life.

“I just want to thank my Dad because of the selflessness, he taught me to be a better person,” Sarah said. “The dedication to do things right he instilled in me, I just have to say I am pretty honored to he his daughter.”

Dana Barnett, the CEO of Memorial Hospital of Carbon County, met Mark two years ago. At that time, Mark was chairman of the hospital board.

“Mark is our senior board member and he has been invaluable helping the hospital with some of the issues we have faced over a period of time,” Barnett said. “I think it is fitting we come to honor Mark for his service on the ambulances and he is gone on ambulance call.”

Barnett says Mark’s leadership on the board of trustees was instrumental in the turnaround the hospital has had in recent years.

“The hospital was going through dire times seven or eight years ago with financial issues and Mark made a significant contribution in helping getting things right,” Barnett said. “Not because he was paid—because it is volunteer—but because he really cares and I can say his years of service are invaluable.”

Pipher said joining SCWEMS can be important on not only going out on calls, but also when if you can come upon an accident.

Pipher said on June 19, 2017 she came upon an accident on Battle Pass that involved two crashed vehicles on fire.

Pipher was able to use her training to coordinate with non-English-speaking people at the crash site to ultimately save one of the six crash victims.

Pipher said one of the first people she called once she got home was Mark. She said his compassion for what she had gone through was essential to face the fact she could not save the other victims. He made her see she had made a difference at the scene.

“Had I not had the training, I really don’t know what the outcome would have been,” Pipher concluded.

“We have a great ambulance service in all five stations, and people should never hesitate to call us because we have excellent people trained ready to go out on calls,” Mark said. “These people work really hard to make SCWEMS what it is. and as we have new personnel join, it is great to pass on all the training.”

Teaching and mentoring aside, Mark is known by some at the ceremony for his commitment to the Carbon County community in general.

“I have known Mark for 26 years and I have enjoyed knowing him because it is always good to have people who get involved in their community,” Lavonne Tlustos, a long term Hanna resident said. “I am hoping he will be around for many more years to help, because we need people like him.”


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