By Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
Ambulance director Rick Loperfido hoped to enter the new year with truck problems behind him. That wasn’t to be the case, however.
During this month’s meeting of the emergency ambulance board Loperfido reported that the service ended 2022 up 49 runs over the yearly total for 2021, at 5,902 runs for the year. But all those miles have taken a toll on the service’s vehicles.
Loperfido reported to the board that Carter 15 is experiencing issues with both the front and rear brakes, in addition to a problem with the throttle body causing it to not run properly.
Carter 4 is experiencing an issue with a leaking radiator and blown radiator hose that will require the replacement of that vehicle’s radiator. In addition to the problems with the coolant system the vehicle is also experiencing an issue with an alternator not adequately charging, and ongoing issues with the rear hub.
Loperfido explained the wheel bearings have been replaced and lubed to the factory recommended specifications, but they are continuing to experience issues with leaking seals. He said the mechanic thinks the issue may be related to the heavy load on the back of the ambulance – which is much heavier than an unmodified truck of the same model. Because of this he is experimenting with some changes to the recommended specs for tightening those seals, Loperfido said, in hopes the configuration will be more suited to a heavier load.
Other vehicles have experienced brake issues (C-2 and C-3), the DEF system and rear seals (C-5), and an engine light related to a catalytic converter problem (C-3).
Loperfido also discussed options including remounting truck bodies onto new chassis and replacing trucks, though he said with the backlog in orders it could take a year or more to purchase a new truck.
He told the court he has been in discussions with their chief mechanic for the vehicles, and they are working on a regular maintenance plan that will include a full inspection when the vehicles come in for their regular oil change. Even if it isn’t time for brake replacements or other regular maintenance at that time, he said, they will pull all the wheels off, check the brakes, look the vehicle over and go ahead with any maintenance that may be needed. Loperfido said the hope was that this “preventative maintenance,” would “prevent some of the higher end costs” that the service experiences when minor problems go unidentified until after they escalate.
Loperfido also reported on quotes for a carport structure, and recommended that the board take no action on that purchase at this time.
He also reported on potential cost savings associated with changing their telephone provider of up to $2,300 per year.
While the telephone provider could change under the new plan, he said they will stick with Windstream as their internet provider.
Loperfido also reported on the potential for placing wi-fi hotspots in all vehicles not currently equipped with internet access, to make fuller use of the other upgraded technology on their trucks. He said KDMC is willing to help with initial costs, though the ambulance service would be responsible for reoccurring costs, including monthly data plans.
Finally, Loperfido reported that the new Stryker cots/stretchers would be received this week, and the company would be providing training on the use of those cots. But, he said, the new heart monitors are still some way out and he doesn’t have a clear date on delivery.
The board also discussed new EMS protocols from the state, with board member Sam Lowe noting this recommendations are the most a service can allow an EMT to provide, but that individual services can still set stricter and more limiting standards.
In the financial report Valerie Nolan told the board the service ended last month with expenses $49,000 under budget, despite the fact that payroll was $11,386,46 over budget for the month.
Nolan also reported on a new Medicaid requirement for a yearlong survey that could cost the service up to ten percent of their payments if they fail to cooperate.
While the federal government estimates it will take less than 20 hours worth of work, Nolan said, she and others expect it will take more.
The board approved a request for Nolan to attend training for that survey in Canton, Ohio – the closest currently planned training location for learning what the surveys must include.
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