When the call comes in ... Riedel makes history as first BVHS student on BFD roster

Jill Meier, Brandon Valley Journal editor

Jill Meier/BV Journal

Since February, Brandon Valley High School senior Kaitlin Riedel has been an official member of the Brandon Fire Department’s medical team. Her long=term goal is to become an emergency room physician.


Kaitlin Riedel has set high standards for herself in all she does.

So, it should come as no surprise that when the call comes in, the 2024 Brandon Valley High School senior has proven to be one of the most active members with the Brandon Volunteer Fire Department.

Riedel became an official member of the Brandon department’s medical team in February, and her desire to help is a yet another avenue leading to her chosen career path as an emergency room physician.

While volunteers need to be at least 21 years of age to be on the fire department roster, the age requirement drops to 18 for its medical members, and she’s the department’s first. Riedel initially got involved through the department’s now-on-hold cadet program. That opportunity was all the inspiration she needed to go after her Emergency Medicine Technician (EMT) certification sooner than later. While she could’ve enrolled in the EMT class BVHS offers through its CTE (Career and Technical Education) classes this semester, she took the course off-campus.

“I didn’t want to wait that long to get involved. I wanted to get it done earlier, so I did it last spring,” Riedel said. 

Brandon Fire Chief Robert Dykstra said Riedel is “eager and always willing to help and learn more.” Her dedication to the department is welcomed, as about 70 percent of calls are medical in nature, he said.

Hours and hours of training were invested in Riedel’s EMT training. Over the course of four months, she attended class two evenings a week for three hours, in addition to some Saturday hands-on training.

Dykstra said the medical recruit has been willing to do whatever has been asked of her.

“As a medical member, she’s not required – per se – to respond to fire calls, but she has, and we’ve utilized her in those non-fire functions,” he said.

At a recent structural fire, she assisted in switching out fire fighter air tanks and fetched equipment from the trucks.

“She also makes sure that we stay hydrated with water, and she can use her medical background to monitor us to make sure that we’re not getting overworked, overheated, overstressed,” Dykstra said.

Without going into detail, Riedel has utilized the life pack on the medical trucks, as well as the EKG, pulse oximeter, and blood pressure equipment.

“It’s (going on a call) a lot different than sitting in class,” she confirms. “You get to learn more about interacting with patients and having empathy. You get to learn how to communicate with people and use the skills that you have learned. But it’s always different in the situation, so you get to learn more of the general uses for it.”

When the call comes in, Riedel is quick to answer, even when she’s in class at school or in bed in the middle of the night.

“I could leave school for any call that was Priority one or two, but not for any of the Priority 3 (calls.). It didn’t matter if I had a test. You get to choose if you want to go,” she said. “I am in town a lot, so I do get to run a lot of calls.”

This fall, when Riedel ventures to East Coast-based Colgate University, she will resign her volunteer EMT position here. But she’s not stepping away from it entirely. 

“A benefit of the college that I’m going to is it actually has a volunteer fire department that allows college students to join, so I do actually get to fully continue being an EMT, and I get to learn more on the fire side, too,” she said.

Riedel admits feeling a rush of adrenaline “when the tones go off.”

“You can definitely feel that spike,” she said, “but you kind of calm down on the drive there, so it’s really just pretty chill by the end.”

Riedel feels fortunate for the opportunity to not only learn her craft, but it ‘sallowed her to give back to the community.

“I was really lucky to have this opportunity. It couldn’t have been timed any better because I had just gotten myself EMT-licensed not too long ago, so it’s really nice to just finally have my spot.,” she said. “I was mostly excited to put it to good use, especially because we’re a pretty close-knit community. So, using the current skills I have, it’s nice to be able to give back in a way that I feel a little more passionate about. Medicine has always interested me, so it will be interesting to grow on these skills, learn more that I can use, and give back where ever I am. I really like the idea of helping people. I feel like there’s some sort of ‘specialness’ to helping people who need it the most.”

Years down the road, Riedel adds that she looks forward to the day when she’s recognized as “Dr. Riedel.”

“’Dr. Riedel,’” she teases, “It sounds fun.”


The Brandon Valley Journal


The Brandon Valley Journal
1404 E. Cedar St.
Brandon, SD 57005
(605) 582-9999

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