March 20, 2019
When Sherm Syverson was a kid growing up in Enderlin, N.D., his mother drove to Fargo weekly for emergency medical technician (EMT) classes. She and a few other women took it upon themselves to start the first rescue squad in their hometown.
“Back then, that was a big deal,” Syverson said.
As she studied, he got his hands on her textbooks. Syverson was fascinated by what he saw on the pages and only wanted to learn more.
“I remember pretending to be a victim for her so she could do assessments on me,” he said. “I remember messing around with the stethoscope and thinking, ‘Oh, this is really cool stuff.’”
Eventually, Syverson started attending rescue squad meetings and riding along on rescue calls. This firsthand exposure engrained in him a passion for health care and public service that would lead to a career.
Passion for health care
After high school, Syverson aspired to work in emergency medical services (EMS).
“Once I started riding along with FM Ambulance as an EMT student, I knew right away what I wanted to do,” Syverson said.
He worked in different EMS roles before landing at Sanford Health’s FM Ambulance. Sanford supported Syverson at every turn.
“When I was a new paramedic and then became a flight paramedic, I was able to go to classes, develop my leadership skills and take advantage of tuition assistance,” Syverson said.
Now, after nearly 40 years, he is the director of emergency and trauma services at Sanford Medical Center Fargo.
“They invested in me, so I think I can give a little back, too,” Syverson said.
Last year, Syverson and his wife, Deb, pledged $15,000 to the FM Ambulance General Fund. This fund helps the FM Ambulance team better serve neighbors and loved ones who need help at a moment’s notice.
Because of generous donors like the Syversons supporting FM Ambulance, the EMS team has access to new equipment, such as a high-tech chest compression device that delivers more efficient, continuous compressions on patients. Funds have also supported the Minnesota Resuscitation Consortium, which is a collaborative effort at the University of Minnesota through partnerships like Sanford Health and FM Ambulance to improve cardiac arrest survival rates.
Through their gift, the Syversons will sponsor an adult exam room in the emergency room (ER) at the Sanford Medical Center Fargo.
“That’s where my heart has always been: ER and EMS,” Syverson said.
Syverson said he’s grateful for every opportunity he’s had and felt it was time to show his appreciation.
“I’ve been lucky enough to work at other jobs throughout my career and I always come back to health care because it’s so rewarding,” he said. “Sanford has everything that makes me feel like I’m contributing.”
While Syverson’s Sanford career advanced, so too did Deb’s.
Formerly an EMT at FM Ambulance, intensive care unit nurse and flight nurse, she is now director of trauma services. The highlight of her tenure so far is the role she played in helping secure Level I Adult Trauma Center status for the medical center in 2018.
Both the Syversons are energized by Sanford’s pursuit to transform global health and honored to be a part of Sanford’s story.
“Sanford has been really good to Deb and me,” Syverson said. “It’s put food on our table and it’s putting our kids through school. I hope I’m able to do more.”
What are you passionate about?
The Sanford family inspired the Syversons to make this generous gift to their area of greatest passion. To discuss supporting the cause that’s close to your heart, contact the Sanford Health Foundation Fargo at (701) 234-6246.