Ambulance District

The Henry County South Joint Ambulance District was recently able to purchase equipment to protect patients and staff from COVID-19 exposure through the use of sub-grants. Pictured are paramedic Nathan Schwiebert (left) and EMT Doug Seemann demonstrating air purifying respirators, a laryngoscope, a CPR compression device and a disinfectant sprayer for the ambulance.

HAMLER — The Henry County South Joint Amublance District was recently able to receive CARES Act sub-grants, and the items purchased with the funds were recently detailed by the district.

Entities in the county recently leveraged municipal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stability (CARES) Act funds for purchases and expenses relating to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those served by the Henry County South Joint Ambulance District had the option to sub-grant unused funds to the district.

It was reported that the full COVID and CARES funding projects total $76,583.74, with amounts received including $1,418 from Richfield Township, $30,000 from the Village of Hamler, $12,000 from Monroe Township, $13,593.65 from Marion Township, $8,108.72 from the Village of Malinta and $4,700 from the Village of Deshler.

Items purchased with these funds include two Lucas CPR compression devices, an air ionization fit for the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system in the building, an Ozone Generator, four Powered Air Purifying Respirator units, four King Vision wide laryngoscopes, other Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), a large television screen for training/virtual meetings and hand sanitizing stations.

District Director Scott Buddelmeyer said these were purchases that wouldn’t be possible without the provided grant money.

“They will help us with cleaning and sanitizing the ambulance and facilities, and protecting staff and patients,” Buddelmeyer said.

Buddelmeyer explained the generator, estimated at $6,033.31, is a portable system that sanitizes surfaces and the air in a room or in the back of an ambulance. The scopes, estimated at $5,599.96, will allow staff members to use the equipment to place breathing tubes and view the patient through video so they do not have to place their head over a patient’s for added safety.

The ionizer, estimated at $1,448, uses a needlepoint brush system that reduces odors and pathogens through the building’s existing HVAC.

Buddelmeyer said the respiration units, estimated at $8,327.72 will be used in environments such as nursing homes. He said they encapsulate the face and maintain positive pressure and air flow through filter cartridges or canisters to the wearer. It was explained these are easier to wear than masks or face shields while keeping the staff member safe.

Buddelmeyer said the CPR compression devices can be placed onto a patient and the compressions that save people from cardiac arrest can be done without exposing staff members. It was reported the estimated cost of the compression devices is $40,298.80.

Buddelmeyer added more than $3,000 was also spent on general expenses PPE, which includes an additional $804 specifically for shoe covers and washable gowns. He said the gowns have been a benefit as they protect staff from COVID exposure, but then can be reused. Paper gowns have become harder to obtain throughout the pandemic, and Buddelmeyer said this also resulted in the gowns becoming more expensive.

An electrostatic disinfecting mist sprayer, estimated at $1,390, is also included

“These are things that are helpful in treating patients,” Buddelmeyer said. “They provide better care and they keep our crews safe.”

Buddelmeyer said the district appreciates the support shown by the municipalities and townships.

“We are very thankful for that,” he said. “It shows that everyone is working together and helping utilize available funds for direct response in a pandemic. It’s beneficial for our crews, and it’s beneficial for the treatment of our patients in the district.”

The district’s efforts were also recently boosted by a $50,000 donation through the Deshler Doctor Program Trust Fund. It was reported the trust fund has recently disbanded, and the district was included in the distribution of funds as it provides medical services to the community.

“We’re thankful they included us in the disbursement,” Buddelmeyer said. “We’re looking at ways to try to use that in the spirit it was meant to be used.”

No decisions have been made at this time, but Buddelmeyer said it has been discussed using the funds to launch the district’s own education support fund to provide funds to those seeking to enhance their EMS certification or education. Another possibility is in purchase two more of the Lucas CPR compression units to allow for one unit to be available on each ambulance.

Despite the pandemic, Buddelmeyer said the district is aiming to provide its services the best it possibly can while providing some level of normalcy for personnel and the community.

“Normal is a relative term these days, but there are things we are doing now to protect crews and patients that will become standard over the next several months yet,” he said. “We’re not quite at normal yet, but, where we’re at right now, we’re trying to put ourselves in a position to have standards for some time to come for everybody.”

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