Ambulance service doing fundraiser
Aiming to replace equipment that is worn out, obsolete
Members of the North Shore Central Ambulance Service will be knocking on doors in 11 communities along the North Shore of Conception Bay from Kingston to Job’s Cove on Saturday, Oct. 9 selling vegetable hampers.
The ambulance service is raising funds to help replace some medical equipment that is getting worn out or has become obsolete.
“ Most people are astounded by how much it costs to operate an emergency service,” says Cathy Short, a paramedic with the service.
“ The best way to explain it is to ask people to look at the purchase price of their car and compare it to buying an ambulance. A new ambulance costs approximately $ 130,000, not including the stretcher and other equipment. And government requires an ambulance be replaced after 10 years, regardless of how good a shape it’s in.”
“Another way to look at it,” Short suggests, “ is to look at the repair bills for your own vehicle, and then just add a zero to that figure, if that same repair were to be made on an ambulance. In other words, a $ 125 repair to your car might run $ 1,250 to have done to an ambulance.”
Electronic equipment used by paramedics to assess a patient ( heart monitors, pulse oximeters, defibrillators, etc) is expensive to purchase and maintain. For example, seven years ago, the ambulance service purchased a heart monitor for $ 11,000. That model of monitor is now obsolete. The batteries, which cost $ 400 each, have been constantly recharged after every use for the past seven years. The service expects it won’t be too much longer before the batteries won’t hold a charge, or the heart monitor malfunctions and they may not be able to find parts to have it repaired.
Unlike equipment used in a hospital, equipment used by paramedics wears out more quickly because it is subjected to extremes of temperature and weather — it doesn’t last as long when used on an ambulance.
Ray Sellars, chairman and a long-time member of the service, says he can recall when the crew had to wash and clean equipment such as suction collection bottles after each trip. “ Not anymore,” he says. “ Because of the concern of transmitting disease from one person to another, almost everything used on a patient these days is designed to be disposable. This also adds to the costs of providing care to patients.”
Another example he cited is if the vinyl covering on a mattress or piece of equipment such as a blood pressure cuff is torn, it has to be replaced because the patient’s bodily fluids could have gotten inside the foam, making it impossible to clean and disinfect
The ambulance service is a registered charity that provides emergency pre-hospital medical care and ambulance transportation on a not-for-profit basis to 11 communities on the North Shore. Its success is due, in large part, to public support.
Ambulance service members are asking the public to support the service financially by purchasing a vegetable hamper on Oct. 9.