High-tech device helps EMS crews

State lends helping hand, training to Newport squad

ERIN O’NEILL The Marietta Times Zack Ankrom, left, a paramedic, and Eric Batey, right, an EMT for Newport VFD, demonstrate a new piece of equipment, an automated CPR device called AutoPulse.

The Newport Volunteer Fire Department had 34 EMS calls for the month of August and any one of those calls could have involved a cardiac event.

Thanks to a grant from the Ohio Department of Public Safety–Division of EMS, the department now has a life-saving piece of equipment that can be used on such occasions.

“It gives us another set of hands and the ability to save a life is increased substantially,” said Dave Ankrom, a squad captain for the department.

The AutoPulse® Resuscitation System made by Zoll provides high-quality automated CPR to victims of sudden cardiac arrest. The equipment is battery operated and squeezes the patient’s entire chest to improve blood flow to the heart and brain. The device would not be used in trauma situations, such as a car accident where a patient might be bleeding out.

“It wraps around the patient and performs chest compressions, freeing up our paramedics to perform other life-saving methods,” Ankrom said.

According to the American Heart Association, approximately 460,000 individuals die every year from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Survival from sudden cardiac arrest is zero percent if external chest compressions are not performed. Studies have consistently shown only an average of five to 15 percent of patients treated with standard CPR survive cardiac arrest, and providing optimal blood flow to a patient in cardiac arrest by performing quality, uninterrupted CPR is uniformly thought to have a positive impact on improving overall survival.

The unit typically costs about $14,000 but with a discount through the state of Ohio, the department was able to purchase it for around $12,000.

Eric Batey, who is an EMT for Newport, and Zack Ankrom, a squad captain, demonstrated the equipment on Wednesday. Ankrom explained that the process takes less than one minute and really helps the crew to be able to focus on other necessary steps, such as providing drugs or intubating the patient.

“Anything that’s better and more comfortable for the patient is good in my book,” Batey said.

Both of the men said that the training was not difficult or time-consuming and they are excited to have such advanced technology for the citizens of Newport and the surrounding communities. Newport VFD services Newport Township and provides mutual aid to Little Muskingum and Lawrence townships and Pleasants County in W.Va.

The Board Priority grant through the Division of EMS was for $30,000 to provide EPC (emergency pediatric care) training and a heart monitor and a Training Equipment Grant provided $4,000. The grant money has been used for the new equipment, needed accessories and training.

“We also have a new cardiac monitor which ties in with the AutoPulse; it allows us to transmit EKG to Marietta Memorial or Camden Clark because it’s a 20-25 minute transport time to the two closest hospitals,” Ankrom said.

The department currently has four full time staff and 10 part time staff, all of whom have been trained to use the new equipment. At the beginning of September, the department started 24 hour shifts to better serve the community. In November, the department hopes the community will turn out in support of a 3-mill replacement levy to help with payroll of EMTs and help possibly increase the staff. The levy would be over the next five years and would cost the owner of a $100,000 roughly $85.40 per year, according to the Washington County Auditor’s office.

“This is a replacement levy that they have every five years,” said Bonnie Hockenberry, Newport Township treasurer. “There is no change, no increase to taxpayers. The department is really good about finding and applying for grants and we (the trustees) will help them with that, but the community always supports these levies and the department.”

In May, voters passed a separate 1.5-mill replacement levy for fire and emergency services. This ballot initiative in

November would strictly pay for EMS staff. Dave Ankrom said that payroll will run around $190,000 annually now that they are on 24-hour shifts. Newport also uses third party billing for ambulance services, which has averaged $125,000 annually. In third party billing, the fire department charges a patient’s insurance for an ambulance transport to the hospital. If the patient has no insurance or an insurance company does not cover the transport, the patient is not billed for the service.

About the levy

¯ On the ballot in November.

¯ 3-mill five-year replacement levy for Newport EMS.

¯ Will replace previous 5-year levy to help provide revenue to pay EMS crews and man ambulances.

¯ Average approximate levy income: $90,000/year

¯ Approximate cost for $100,000 home: $85.40/year

Source: Newport VFD, Newport Township Trustees, Washington County Auditor.