The Edge of the Wilderness area in northern Minnesota may be remote, but the emergency services are designed to reach even snowmobilers on a winter trail in the woods or a party fishing on an isolated forest lake.Bigfork Valley is a level IV trauma center designated hospital.
The Bigfork Ambulance Service Association (BASA) is dispatched by the Itasca County Sheriff’s Department 911 service. It covers Bigfork and the surrounding rural area with two ambulances and specialized equipment such as a covered rescue stretcher that can be towed by an ATV or snowmobile. Two trained emergency medical technician (EMT) members are always within 5 minutes of the ambulance building. BASA is augmented with equipment from the Bigfork Volunteer Fire Department.
Should transfer to another facility for more extensive care be necessary, appropriate transport is available via Bigfork Ambulance Service, Advanced Life Support ground service from nearby communities or via helicopter or fixed wing air ambulance, depending on the patient’s health care needs.
Bigfork Valley’s onsite helipad provides a convenient landing access for the air ambulance while fixed wing ambulance can land at the Bigfork Municipal Airport just north of town.
Emergency services are provided by a physician in a well-equipped Emergency Department with 2 trauma rooms and 2 treatment rooms. The department is adjacent to the inpatient care hospital and centrally located to the lab, imaging and surgical departments. There is physician coverage 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Bigfork Valley was certified as a CALS hospital in 2012. The Comprehensive Advanced Life Support (CALS) curriculum is a recognized program for rural hospitals taught across the Midwest, in Canada and to U.S. embassy medical staff. It is designed to keep rural medical staff current in emergency medicine through ongoing training and a systematic approach to emergencies.
Bigfork Valley also has a permanent decontamination room for incidents where a person is exposed to a hazardous external chemical. The decontamination room allows for a series of contained water washes and is accessed through a separate entrance to the emergency room.