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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Staying equipped 

Ambulance service receives O2 system and other gear

By Jeremy D. Wells

Carter County Times

The Carter County Emergency Ambulance Service just made a huge upgrade in their oxygen refill system. The new system, which includes its own generator and is housed in an enclosed trailer for transport, will allow the ambulance service to once again fill their own tanks. In addition to saving time and money currently spent refilling the tanks in West Virginia, the new system refills tanks much quicker than the service’s old system.  

That old system was plagued with problems, requiring frequent repairs. Even when it did work, though, they couldn’t fill as many tanks as quickly as the new system can. In addition to the bay with explosion shielding built into the system, the compressor supports an exterior line that can be used to fill tanks as well.  

Executive director Rick Loperfido said the system will fill ten of the large, medical, N size containers in 24 hours. It will fill the smaller portable containers in as little as ten minutes, and the larger portable containers in about an hour.

Those larger portable tanks – the ones the new system fills in an hour – would take up to 24 hours with their old tank system, Loperfido said.  

The entire refill system, including the trailer and generator, were covered by ARPA funds procured through the Carter County Fiscal Court. Loperfido extended his thanks to the court for their help in procuring the new system.  

In related news the board accepted the first $105,000 of a $610,000 equipment loan from Commercial Bank of Grayson.

Those funds are going to be used to purchase a number of items for use on trucks, including chest compression units, monitors, lift stretchers, and other items. But because of supply chain issues they can’t take delivery of all items at once.

Some items, Loperfido said, may take as long as six months to arrive. Because of that Commercial Bank President Mark Strother said, they were providing the loan in installments. By structuring the loan this way, the ambulance service won’t be paying interest on the full amount while waiting to make the payment and take delivery. It also allows them to lock in their interest rate at a time when rates are expected to continue rising.  

Commercial Bank is offering the loan at 4.25% interest, where the financing company for the manufacturer would have charged 9 % interest.  

In other action Loperfido reported on an increase in calls to Carter Nursing and a possibility of picking up another dialysis patient.  

Loperfido also reported on repairs to trucks, and issues with space.  

With receipt of the new oxygen trailer, he said, they didn’t have room in the bay for one of their trucks. He requested the board consider the purchase of a covered carport area behind the building for vehicles that can’t fit inside the bay.

That would allow them to keep snow and ice off the vehicles, he said, while keeping them heated with supplemental heaters, so they were ready for use.  

Moving the vehicles or the oxygen system to the Olive Hill branch isn’t feasible, he said, because of even more limited space there.  

Loperfido said he would price different cover options and return to the board with prices.  

The board also discussed the possible purchase of another truck to haul the oxygen system, should there be an instance where the service would need to fill bottles remotely in an emergency situation.

Judy Roark made a motion to begin looking for a truck, which the board voted to approve.  

In the financial report Valerie Nolan noted that payroll was down for the first time in recent history, coming in $10,708.31 under budget for the month of October.  

Nolan also said the county has a higher than average number of refusals, up to a 20 percent refusal rate, which they cannot bill for. She said she is going to attempt to track the reasons for those refusals in the form of patient surveys, to determine why.  

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com 



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