Latest News

Safe Sitter Babysitting Course Returns to the North Fork Valley

North Fork EMS is excited to bring the Safe Sitter Babysitting Course back to the North Fork Valley. The course is designed to prepare students to be safe when they’re home alone, watching younger siblings or providing babysitting services. The Safe Sitter Instructor-led class includes games and role-playing exercises, guided discussion, skills practice and CPR/choking rescue. 

This class is recommended for 6-8th grade students, but there may be exceptions. It’s extremely valuable for teenagers and young adults to learn first aid and rescue skills, alongside good business practices. Learning these types of life skills at an early age is a great way to show kids how to take on responsibility, and may be building blocks for future jobs.

The class teaches four main categories: safety, child care skills, first aid & rescue, and life & business skills. In the safety portion, students learn how to avoid unsafe situations and what to do in the event of something like a power failure or weather emergency. With child care skills, instructors offer tips to manage behavior that will help them stay in control of themselves and the children in their care. Students also learn the ages and stages of child development, and a lesson on diapering. The first aid section includes CPR and choking rescue from a certified CPR instructor, as well as how to assess and respond to injuries and illnesses. Instructors talk about how to screen jobs, discuss fees and greet employers in the life & business lesson. Students practice these skills through various role plays.

Keep an eye out for our next class! We plan to host another one this summer.

The Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL) Program in the North Fork Valley

Strength and balance training for older adults has proven to help reduce the risk of falls. With over 3 million treated in emergency departments each year for fall injuries, fitness classes for adults 65+ are extremely valuable to communities. In the North Fork Valley, over 20% of 9-1-1 calls are for people who are not taken to the hospital, but need help getting up after a fall. Doing regular strength, balance and flexibility exercises is a great way to relieve stress, sleep better, grow stronger, and maintain a healthy, independent life.

North Fork EMS is excited to offer the Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL) program to the North Fork Valley. SAIL is an evidence-based falls prevention program designed for older adults. In 2007, a foundational research study for the SAIL program was published in the Journal of Gerontology. In September 2012, SAIL was recognized as a Title IIID – Evidence-Based Program by the Administration on Aging, meeting the highest level of criteria for an evidence-based program.

The SAIL program is able to accommodate people with a mild level of mobility difficulty (e.g. people who are occasional cane users), and may be done sitting or standing. The class consists of the following components: warm up, aerobics, balance exercises, strength exercises, stretching and education.

The one-hour class is held in Hotchkiss, Crawford and Paonia, two times a week in each community. Classes are led by Elise Wages, Lindi Mereness, and Katie Hedley who completed the SAIL Instructor training this summer. All classes are offered for free as the program is funded by a North Fork EMS grant through the State of Colorado. Donations are welcome to help sustain the program once the grant runs out in June of 2022. See the class schedule below for details on times and locations. If you have any questions, please contact Katie at 970-201-3423 or

SAIL Class Schedule




Monday & Thursday • 9:30 – 10:30am • Memorial Hall




Tuesday & Friday • 10 – 11am • Paonia Senior Center




Tuesday & Thursday • 5:30 – 6:30pm • Crawford Town Hall

*Note: The Crawford class is an advanced level class

AEDs and Senior Lunch Program Donations in the North Fork Valley

This past November, North Fork EMS hosted its annual fundraising event, the 2021 North Fork Holiday Marketplace, at Heritage Hall in Hotchkiss. The event hosted 28 local vendors, served two lunches, and had a Tin Can Raffle with locally donated items and services. Gambles ACE Hardware in Hotchkiss gifted a beautiful Traegar grill to the raffle with a retail value of $1,500.

The fundraiser’s raffle raised $2,640, which was matched dollar for dollar by the North Fork Ambulance Auxiliary, a nonprofit that supports emergency medical services in the North Fork Valley. With a total of $5,280, North Fork EMS was able to purchase five Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), which have been donated to various public spaces in Hotchkiss, Crawford and Paonia.

An AED is a portable lifesaving device that can help a person suffering from sudden cardiac arrest. It gives verbal instructions to the user and is designed for an untrained person. This easy-to-use medical device can analyze the heart’s rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electrical shock, or defibrillation, to help the heart re-establish an effective rhythm.

Kathy Steckel, District Chief of North Fork EMS says, “By having more AEDs available throughout the North Fork Valley, we are making it possible for the average person to help someone in cardiac arrest even before the ambulance arrives, and possibly be a part of helping save a life. These devices are extremely valuable assets to the people in our community.”

The AEDs are being installed at the following facilities:

  • Paonia Senior Center
  • Hotchkiss Memorial Hall
  • Crawford Community Center
  • Hotchkiss Town Hall
  • Delta County Search and Rescue

The Holiday Marketplace also made $1,238 from the lunches offered to the public. The North Fork Ambulance Auxiliary is matching these earnings as well. The total of $2,476 is being split between the Paonia Senior Center and Hotchkiss Senior Center to support their senior lunch programs.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Holiday Marketplace! Because of your wonderful support, we can help our communities stay healthy and safe.