Advance EMS has been serving Dixon and surrounding area since 1983

Ray Darsidan and Matt Faley are employed with Advance EMS in Dixon.

DIXON – Advance EMS has been serving Dixon and the surrounding area since 1983, providing 24/7 paramedic and critical care services.

Noting a need for professional private ambulance service in Dixon, Kevin Rogers and his father, the late James Rogers, bought their first unit, and Advance EMS of Dixon began service to the area Feb. 1, 1983. In 1985, the company became a paramedic service with 24-hour full coverage providing pre-hospital services, according to the service’s website.

With six ambulances and 35 employees, Advance EMS works closely with other agencies and provides emergency and non-emergency ambulance services, local and long-distance transfer services, support at fires, intercept support and event standby services.

Brian Thompson, John Baker and Matthew Faley are Advance EMS emergency medical technicians at different stages of their EMT careers.

Thompson, 61, began his career in 1997 and has been with Advance EMS since 2007. He is a shift supervisor.

Baker, 40, began his career in 2012 and has been with Advance EMS since 2013. Faley, 23, began his career and started at Advance EMS in 2022.

All three agree that serving the community is what they consider to be the best part of the job.

“Some of my best calls are pediatric calls or transfers,” Thompson said. “There are challenges in pediatrics. The first step is to gain the patient’s trust. Then you need to work with the patient to make sure we can provide any treatment that’s required and it’s important to keep the patient calm.

“Also, at times, you need to take care of the parents. It’s an emotional time for them as well. Instilling confidence in the parents can be challenging. Getting the patient where he or she needs to be and seeing the calm, a smile, or even a hug after your care and getting a thank-you from the parents is worth more than money can buy.”

Baker said he loves being in the back of a rig treating a patient.

“It’s so quiet when you’re doing that because you have a job to do,” he said.

For Faley, it’s being able to “serve my community and impact somebody’s life in a positive way.”

Thompson said some of the worst calls are motor vehicle crashes.

“When you come up on a scene, you don’t know what you’re going to see,” he said. “It’s still scary after all these years when you pull up and see a mangled mess of what was a vehicle, or you come up on a motorcycle crash and hope it isn’t one of your friends or someone you know. You can anticipate seeing things you can’t begin to fathom. Trauma calls can be a fast-paced and chaotic scene. But they also can be a time of great pride.”

Baker said the administrative portion of the job – chiefly, paperwork – is the part of the job he dislikes. “I hate doing reports,” he said. “They’re the bane of my existence.”

All three became EMTs as a result of wanting to help people.

“My wife and girls suffered a devastating loss,” Thompson said. “I wanted to make a difference, even if it was only one time. My friends in the Eldridge [Iowa] Fire Department and MEDIC EMS [in Davenport, Iowa] provided the knowledge and avenue to get into this crazy field. Advance EMS has become like family.”

Baker’s short answer is that he wants to help people.

“But there are many other reasons,” Baker said. “My father died from a pulmonary embolism when I was 4 months old. He was 31. If I can do something to prevent another little kid from growing up without his father, I will do it.”

Faley’s father was an Air Force veteran who taught him to be a good leader and to serve.

“He was a paid on-call EMT/firefighter for Dixon,” Faley said. “My mother has been a nurse for 30 years. She works at KSB Hospital [in Dixon] in cardiology. She sparked my passion for medicine and the importance of being there for someone no matter what.”

Baker’s advice for those interested in joining the profession is to do a job shadow.

“And job shadow with different agencies to see what they do and what you want to do,” he said. “This isn’t a field for everyone. You have to be ready to do your job at all times, including bad weather. People don’t stop getting sick because it’s cold outside or there’s a blizzard.”

“EMS can be a very exciting and rewarding career,” Thompson said. “Each day or shift you work is different. Some days are mundane and others are fast-paced. EMT-Basic to a critical care paramedic can be very rewarding, challenging, frustrating, exciting, monotonous, tiring, mentally and emotionally draining and an adrenaline rush, sometimes on the same day. If you have an interest in being an EMT or want to see what it’s all about, you should definitely do a ride-along to experience things from the easy to the terrible and decide if this is something for you. Job shadowing is beneficial, and we could gain a great EMT.”

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