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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Lifesaving gear

Ambulance board holds special session to approve loan

By Jeremy D. Wells

Carter County Times

The Carter County Ambulance Board met in special session on Monday to approve the second reading of their loan agreement with Commercial Bank of Grayson after taking delivery of seven new stretchers and LUCAS chest compression units.

The board approved a first reading of the agreement during their December meeting, to lock in rates, but held off on finalizing the agreement until delivery of the equipment, to delay the accrual of interest.

The $610,000 loan covers the cost of seven new stretchers, at around $24,000 each, and the LUCAS devices, which cost the ambulance service $110,000 for all seven. The remainder of the cost is for new monitors, which ambulance director Rick Loperfido said should be delivered sometime this spring.

The agreement with Commercial Bank not only keeps money in the local economy, Loperfido explained, but it also saves the ambulance service money over the lease deal offered by Stryker while giving the ambulance service full ownership of the assets. The deal offered by Stryker would have leased the equipment to the department at the same cost, with a nine percent interest rate. The Commercial Bank deal allows them to purchase the devices outright at 4.25 % – less than half the rate offered by the manufacturer.

These new devices will replace stretchers, compression devices, and monitors that have been in regular use for the last ten years or more, Loperfido said. There have been a lot of improvements to the technology over that time, Loperfido and paramedic Stephen Amburgey explained. The new stretchers have extendable handles that can help with lifting taller individuals comfortably, and adjustable side wings to accommodate larger patients more comfortably. They also have a completely mechanical lift system, which works more efficiently than the hydraulic system employed by the older model. The batteries powering these newer units also feature a power level display, which should eliminate the risk of a crew getting stuck with a bad or partially recharged battery.

The new stretchers also feature safety locks on all wheels, instead of one like the older models, lights to aid in maneuvering during low light conditions, and have better shock absorbers to give patients a safer and more comfortable ride. They also have built in connectivity so that they can be monitored remotely, and any error reports automatically logged for diagnostic and troubleshooting purposes.

The new series 3 LUCAS devices provide steady chest compressions, freeing EMTs and paramedics to focus on administering medicine or performing other lifesaving tasks. It also provides more steady and regular compressions than a person performing CPR can offer over a long period of time, Amburgey explained. He noted that rides to the hospital can take anywhere from half an hour to 45 minutes or more, depending on where they are coming from – which is long time to perform CPR without tiring and possibly slowing or varying your rhythm and timing. While they aren’t used as often as stretchers, he said, when they are needed they make a big difference in the quality of care ambulance staff can provide.

Loperfido said while some of the older gear will be retired, some of the nicer series 2 LUCAS units might be donated to the Grayson and Olive Hill Fire Departments for their use during emergency response.

The new units, Loperfido said, are all covered by a seven year warranty, which should nearly cover the life span of the equipment.

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com

Executive director Rick Loperfido discusses new stretchers and chest compression devices. (Photo by Jeremy D. Wells, Carter County Times)


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