North Dakota Emergency Medical Services Association

Subject Matter Experts

Recognizing that many rural EMS agency leaders do not have a strong background in process improvement, each agency that is participating in this project will be assigned an SME and partnered with other EMS agencies. This mentorship will reduce the perceived difficulties of data collection and analysis by answering questions and problem solving at each agency’s level of comfort. Meet our subject matter experts!

As part of this project, we want to hear from you.  What questions do you have?  Click on the link below to ask the experts.  If they can't answer your question, we will find one that can!

Ask the Experts

Shila Blend

Shila is a board-certified registered nurse and has earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Medcenter One College of Nursing, a Master of Science in nursing from the University of Mary and is a Ph.D. candidate with a focus on health systems from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora.  Shila currently works as the North Dakota Health Information Technology Director and formerly worked in the North Dakota Division of EMS.  She brings more than a decade of experience leading people and projects in the health systems space, including patient care and implementation of software and statewide programs.  Her leadership experience includes significant stakeholder engagement with state, local and tribal partners as well as health care associations, emergency management and legislative members.  Shila is a systems thinker who is passionate about improving our rural health care systems for the citizens of North Dakota.

Marcy Dawson

Marcy is a Nurse and Paramedic who did most of her career in Emergency Care. She has been a RN for 40 years, and obtained her EMT in 1986, and Paramedic in 1992. Marcy worked in Both a rural CAH and both Medcenter One and St. Alexius Emergency Department. She has also volunteered on Carson, Hebron and New Salem Ambulances. She did Critical Care Transport from Elgin Hospital to Bismarck and has 18 years of Flight Nursing experience.  Currently Marcy is a Flight Nurse with Sanford AirMed, and an adjunct instructor with Sanford EMS education. Marcy is Certified in Emergency Nursing, Flight Nursing and Trauma Nursing. Marcy works with both Education and Quality Improvement with AirMed. She is also an EMS Instructor/Coordinator and on the Critical Incident Stress Debriefing team. Marcy Volunteers with New Salem Ambulance and is the Trainer for Hebron Ambulance.

Jason Eblen

Jason Eblen was born in Fargo, North Dakota, and grew up on his family farm and home in Hillsboro, North Dakota, where he attended Hillsboro Public Schools. In his high school years, he developed an interest in the medical field. Jason attended a first responder course after his sophomore year in high school in 1995, then began volunteering for the Hillsboro Ambulance Service.

Jason took a full time position at F-M Ambulance in the summer of 2001 while he continued his education at North Dakota State University. He began paramedic school at F-M Ambulance and Bismarck State College that same year. Jason was promoted to a Paramedic position at F-M Ambulance and continues to work full time as a field provider.

Jason was a key contributor when F-M Ambulance implemented their initial system of live system status monitoring and demand analysis. In 2013, Jason took on a newly developed role as a Quality Improvement/Quality Assurance Specialist and SIM-ND Educator. As a SIM-ND educator, Jason participates in a grant-funded project providing mobile simulation education on high mortality-low frequency scenarios to rural ambulance services and critical access hospitals throughout the state in an effort to improve patient outcomes.

In 2011, the Minnesota High School League recognized Jason for his role in resuscitating a high school basketball player who experienced sudden cardiac arrest during a game at a rural school and was subsequently able to return to the court.

In addition to his previous volunteer service with Hillsboro Ambulance, Jason was a member of the ND EMS Association Board of Directors for several years. He also volunteered as a reserve deputy sheriff for the Cass County Sheriff’s Office.

In his spare time, Jason appreciates working with computers, firearms training, and spending time with his family. He is also an avid NDSU football fan. Jason is married to his wife, Tiffany. They live in Reile’s Acres with her sons, Tristan and Trenton, and a Shih Tzu-Bichon cross, Max.

Karen Jacobson

Karen Jacobson has been involved in emergency medical services (EMS) for over 30 years, first as an EMT and as a paramedic since 1992 in urban, suburban, and rural areas. For the past 18 years her focus and advocacy has been on EMS data collection through the adoption and improvement of the National EMS Information System data standard. She recognizes the value of healthcare data in demonstrating the benefit to patient care through quality assurance, performance improvement, protocol adherence, and key performance indicators. 

Nick Nudell

I have been a Nationally Registered Paramedic for 19 years and am licensed in Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado with previous experience in California and New Jersey. I have a bachelor’s degree in Management, a Master’s of Science in Computer Information Security, and am seeking a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration. I am a Fellow of the American College of Paramedic Executives. 

For more than 25 years, I’ve succeeded as a visionary public policy strategist in resource-constrained settings. As a scholar-practitioner, my focus has primarily been on improving health care system design through effective public policy, governance, performance, and engagement by applying innovative approaches to both knowledge discovery and management. This has informed my work as a consultant for the federal government, several state governments, and many local EMS agencies across the country.

As a former EMS Chief, I maintain a paramedic practice as a full-time, street corner posting, night shift, and tactical and special operations team paramedic. This experience allows me to keep current with issues facing paramedicine, our communities, patients, and the EMS industry with valuable boots on the ground perspective that can be lacking elsewhere.

This work also provides me the opportunity to proudly serve my chosen profession in voluntary capacities. In addition to serving on the NEMSMA Board of Directors for the past few years, I also support the American Paramedic Association as its President and the National Association of EMS Physician’s Colorado Chapter Board of Directors as the professional member representative. I also serve as a peer reviewer for several academic journals and formerly as a member of the National EMS Advisory Council.

Kelli Sears

For the past two and half years, Kelli N. Sears has served the role of Program Director for Paramedic Technology at Bismarck State College.

Kelli has been in Emergency Medical Services since 2003. Since that time Kelli has worked in several different areas included ground service, air medical, education, and state government. In 2018 Kelli completed her Master of Science in Emergency Medical Services from Creighton University. Through her experience, Kelli has gained a broad prospective of the Emergency Medical System in North Dakota.

In addition to her primary role as Program Director, Kelli also serves as a paramedic program site visitor for the Committee on Accreditation for the EMS Profession, is a test representative for the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians, and serves on the Education Committee with the North Dakota Division of Emergency Medical Systems.

Kelli lives in Bismarck, North Dakota with her husband Brian, and her daughter Norah. She enjoys spending time at the lake with family and watching her daughter swim competitively.

Howard Walth

Howard has had a heart for EMS & Trauma ever since his first ambulance run in 1982. He currently serves as the Trauma Coordinator for CHI St. Alexius Health in Bismarck.  He is a retired Bismarck Fire Lieutenant and maintains certifications as a RN, CEN, CFRN, CCRN, TCRN, LNCC and Paramedic.

North Dakota EMS Association

1622 East Interstate Avenue, Bismarck, ND 58503


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