Lynchburg (VA) EMS Agencies Agree to Update Aging Equipment

Several local EMS agencies will update decades-old equipment this year thanks to money from the state’s Rescue Squad Assistance Fund, a program that awards grant money to nonprofit EMS providers.

More than $330,000 will go to eight local EMS agencies to help offset the purchase of equipment, including defibrillators, automatic stretchers and stair lifts, computer software and an ambulance.

Some of the new purchases will replace aging, out-of-date equipment, such as the Concord Rescue Squad’s 40-year-old stair chair and 20-year-old power stretcher.

The squad also received money to cover half the cost of a new Lucas automatic chest compression system that is more effective than manual CPR. The squad already has a similar device, but its batteries can’t hold a charge long enough to cover the average travel time to the hospital.

Training Officer Stephen Wade said the new device will be a significant help in saving cardiac patients, which the squad encounters about once or twice per month.

Much like other EMS equipment, the device doesn’t come cheap. The grant money will reimburse the squad for half of the $13,500 cost, and Wade said the rest will be paid for by money collected through fundraisers.

The state is footing 80 percent of the almost $200,000 bill for the vehicle, which county Director of Public Safety Gary Roakes said is a huge help to his local budget.

The department, along with four other agencies, received more than $60,000 to cover half the cost of two new Zoll X Series defibrillators.

Two volunteer agencies didn’t get quite so lucky this year, and had more than $120,000 in requests turned down.

The Huddleston Life Saving and First Aid Crew requested funds to cover half the cost of four defibrillators, four defibrillator mounts and a new ambulance, but only received funds for two of the defibrillators and mounts.

On its grant application, the volunteer agency said its current ambulance failed at least three times in the last six months during a patient transport. The agency services a population of more than 5,000 people in a 135-square-mile area, making reliable transportation a must.

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