Joining the St. Marys Area Ambulance Service benefits individuals by reducing the amount they have to pay in the event of an emergency; however, the membership funds are also crucial to the ambulance service because they allow for the purchase of new equipment.
According to St. Marys Area Ambulance Service Manager Bert Sorg, all of the service's equipment is purchased with membership funds and it is important for items to continually be updated in order to provide the best service to area residents.
Just about every person transported via ambulance in the city is hooked up to a Lifepak, state-of-the-art heart monitors that the ambulance service recently invested in through the use of membership money. The ambulance service has five of the units, one in each ambulance and another in the Medic 12 vehicle.
"It just tells us how a person's heart is functioning electrically, which also can give us an indication of how the heart is functioning physically, too," Sorg said. "The other thing [the units do] is monitor your oxygen level, pulse oxygen, and your blood pressure."
The ambulance service previously had an early model of the Lifepaks, but Sorg explained that the new units provide important additional features, such as carbon dioxide monitoring and measuring hemoglobin levels.
"The other thing we're working on-- this is something we're going to be starting up in the near future to work with our hospital and some of the other hospitals-- is we're going to be transmitting a 12-lead EKG in the case of somebody that's having a suspected heart attack. We can transmit that directly to our hospital and then the doctor can advise us what specific treatment [we should administer to the patient] and whether they want that patient to go directly to a heart center," Sorg said.
Sorg noted that the Lifepaks make a big difference in how a patient is treated.
"It gives us more information to diagnose possible treatments in the field, where we didn't have that before," Sorg said.
Membership funds are also used for the purchase of new ambulances. The organization continually rotates purchasing new vehicles, with the most recent units having been added in November 2009 and November 2010.
"On average, we replace [an ambulance] every year and a half or so," Sorg said.
He explained that this continuous replacement cycle is important to ensure that the vehicles remain dependable and do not break down.
Sorg added that, in the future, the hope is that membership funds will be able to be used for the purchase of refrigerator units, one of which will be placed in each ambulance. The compact units will be used to refrigerate IV solution.