BIRCHWOOD – “I worked my way up to $3 an hour,” Melinda Button, nurse at Lakeview Medical Center Labor and Delivery, joked. Aside from her work at Lakeview Medical Center, Button works as a volunteer advanced emergency medical technician (EMT) for the Birchwood Four Corners Ambulance service, for which she receives the small $3/hour stipend, plus a small sum for a run.

“It’s lots of time and very little money, but that’s not why I do it. I do it to help people in my community, because it’s a skill I have that not everyone has. I believe I’m meant to share it,” explained Button.

She’s helping Security Health Plan share, too: After receiving Button’s nomination, Security Health Plan is investing $1,000 in the Birchwood Four Corners Ambulance Service through its monthly Employee-Driven Corporate Giving Program. The funds will go toward hosting Automated External Defibrillator (AED) trainings for community members.

“Every minute counts with a cardiac event. Early and high-quality CPR and defibrillation can make all the difference,” said Button. “People want to help their neighbors; they don’t like feeling helpless when someone is in need. A normal heart has a steady rhythm. During a cardiac event, the heart is quaking like a bunch of Jell-O – there’s no way it can be effective like that. An AED can stop a bad rhythm and start the heart beating correctly again. Birchwood wants to arm people in the community with the tools and know-how to intervene, while they wait for us to arrive,” said Button.

Birchwood Four Corners Emergency Services District formed when six townships and a village combined their resources to support Birchwood Fire Department and Ambulance Service for their communities.

“Now, we’re doing as much as we can, right in our community,” said Button. “They’re really doing a good job making the community a safe place people want to move to for raising their family.” The ambulance service provides emergency medical care and transports patients to Lakeview Medical Center as well as other local emergency providers. They serve a range of patients, from summer tourists who’ve had ATV accidents, to elderly community members with chronic health issues.

“We’re always looking for volunteers,” said Button. “While you can’t learn it all in a textbook, there are EMT courses at the local technical colleges. Those interested are welcome to ride along with us and talk to the Birchwood team before they would begin any training, to make sure it’s a good fit,” she offered.

Button summarized her journey from police cadet to Advanced EMT with an early memory: “The first time you really make a difference and save a life, that’s when you know why you’re here doing this,” she said.

Button remembers saving the life of her father’s friend when they were talking on the phone and she recognized his symptoms of cardiac arrest. “My dad’s friend could have died that day, but instead, with emergency medical help, he’s alive and well 10 years later. I’m nothing special on the Birchwood team – there are so many talented people here – but when you realize the difference you could make to someone’s life and our community, that’s what keeps you.” 

Birchwood Four Corners Ambulance Service could use your help. Birchwood Four Corners Ambulance Service relies on volunteers and donations. Contact Ambulance Director Don “Bumper” Bergstrom for more information on how to become a volunteer at 612-670-5756 or

Every month, Security Health Plan invests $1,000 as part of its Employee-Driven Corporate Giving campaign. Marshfield Clinic Health System employees are encouraged to nominate an organization that it is making a positive difference in the community.

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