by Tara Walker
On March 27, EMS Chief Ray Jennings and staff gave an EMS demonstration to the Board of County Commissioners.
Chief Jennings explained the tools and resources that the EMS uses and the purposes and uses for their equipment. Education Captain Audrey Jennings ended the demonstration with a response scenario that was run in real time. Chief Jennings said, “An ambulance vehicle before adding mobile radios and router is around $180,000 and then all the equipment added is another $150,000. Nothing we do is inexpensive.”
During the demonstration, Chief Jennings pointed out that their mission is to provide lifesaving point of care services and emergency pre-hospital care during transport with EMS professionals who have advanced training. The ambulance must carry tools to help access patients and provide health services to patients. EMS may have to cut battery cables, cut doors, and cut fencing to reach patients. One important tool is the halligan bar which is used to force entry to reach patients behind locked doors.
Grand County EMS renews their license every 2 years and invests in training and technology to give staff the ability to provide high quality patient care.
Jennings pointed out their ambulances have special tools and devices for pediatric care. They get regular training from Children’s Hospital and have received numerous awards. Most recently, Children’s hospital gave Grand County EMS the Excellence in Pediatric Trauma Award in June of 2017. Jennings, “On average, our history shows Grand County EMS delivers 1 baby a year.”
Another important tool is the LIFEPAK 15, purchased through an AFG, American Firefighter Grant, that paid 100% for 6 life packs. The screens can show heart rate, heart beat and can show if the patient is having heart attack, atrial flutter or ventricular tachycardia (vtach). Jennings explained that the Lifepack lists for 35k, but he can get for 28 to 30k when bought in bulk.
The LIFEPAKS also measure carbon monoxide and pulse oximetry. Jennings, “Here in Grand County, we respond to 150 carbon monoxide calls a year. We’ve had 3-4 patients a year with carbon monoxide exposure. It is a very good device and all the information allows us to better treat patients.”
Education Captain Audrey Jennings ended the demonstration with a response scenario that was run in real time. She put in a call indicating that a patient was nonresponsive. Audrey explained that dispatch will do EMD, emergency medical dispatch. Dispatch follows flow charts to help walk the callers through CPR or other medical steps until the ambulance arrives.
The ambulance arrived and EMS technicians used the iN/X stretcher, an integrated patient transport and loading system, and the Lucas Chest Compression System, an automated device that provides a higher blood flow to the brain and heart than manual compression while freeing up responders to focus on other lifesaving tasks.
When asked about the expense of an ambulance, Audrey Jennings replied, “Ambulance rides are very expensive, but death is not good either. We have a ton of programs to help. We allow time pay where we don’t charge interest. We have a financial aid program and will also bill insurance on their behalf.”