Anonymous $60,000 gift helps upgrade Loyal ambulance
Most pieces of mail that arrive in the Loyal Ambulance Service’s post office box are pretty routine. Not the one that arrived last January.
In that envelope was a letter notifying the service that it would soon be receiving a $60,000 anonymous gift to help it buy equipment it would otherwise not be able to afford. The 14 EMTs who make all the runs for Loyal ambulance needs still do not know from whom the generous gift came, but they’re greatly appreciative every time they jump into the ambulance unit to speed to someone in need.
With the $60,000, the service purchased several items that never quite fit into its annual budget. The service is funded by the fees collected from those who need emergency medical assistance and/or a run to the nearest hospital, and annual funding from the four municipalities it serves — the city of Loyal, the towns of Beaver and Loyal, and part of the town of York. Those revenues meet the usual expenses for ambulance operation and upkeep, etc., but little is left over for expensive equipment. The service has held fundraisers in the past, and is able to save up over a few years’ time for larger purchases.
This donation, though, was special. The biggest purchase it allowed was for a Binder lift, a power device that was mounted into the ambulance interior to lift and pull the cot loaded with a patient inside. The service had purchased a power cot in the past that would help lift a patient, but the Binder lift now takes over all the heavy lifting.
Before now, when the cot would be placed at the rear of the ambulance, all the weight of the cot and patient shifted to whomever was at the end of it. They had to be able to hold the full weight up, plus push the cot forward into the ambulance.
As service treasurer Margie Szymanski said, that was no easy task for some of the EMTs.
“There was no way I could get a patient in by myself. I can do that now,” Szymanski said. “We can get this out and in with one hand, basically.”
The Binder lift has advantages for both the patient and EMT safety. The loading process is now much smoother, which is great for a patient who may
DEAN LESAR/STAFF PHOTO already be in pain, but it also takes physical stress off the EMTs. Back and shoulder issues were becoming common due to the heavy lifting, which often occurs in uneven terrain or in tight spots.
“It’s as much for patient safety as it is for EMT safety,” Szymanski said.
A second purchase with the anonymous gift was of a Lucas device, which is placed over a cardiac victim’s chest to deliver mechanical compressions. The batterypowered device is said to be more consistent and efficient for the patient, and alleviates the fatigue an EMT might experience in trying to keep a patent alive with manual compressions.
“It’s a rather tiring job if you do it from here to Marshfi eld,” said service chief Mike Meyer. “That’s the beauty of it, it does not get tired.”
“It’s one of those pieces of equipment we hope we don’t have to use very often,” Szymanski said.
Another new piece of equipment that has long been desired but never affordable is a device that lifts heavy oxygen cylinders into the ambulance. The cylinders have to be lifted into a side door then fitted into a tight space, where they are then connected for the oxygen supply needed by patients. Getting the cylinders in place was always a struggle, but will now be much easier.
Those things are important, Meyer said, as the service tries to keep the EMTs it has safe and attempts to find new ones.
“The truth of the matter is, we’re all aging,” Meyer said. “We looked around at things that will more or less make our life easier.”
With 14 EMTs on the current call rotation, the service can always use more help, Meyer said. Getting that help will be easier as new candidates see the service is wellequipped.
“People are a pretty precious commodity in this business, especially in these rural areas,” Meyer said.
Service assistant chief Rick Szymanski said there would not likely have been money for the new devices had this donation not suddenly appeared out of nowhere.
“These are things we dreamt about having but never really had the budget to do it,” he said.
Dave Esselman, the service’s training officer, said the donation was “a godsend.”
“It was somebody nice enough to pay forward something they hope they’ll never need,” he said.
Margie Szymanski said all the EMTs are highly thankful to the donor for helping them more easily provide a vital service.
“Every time we go out, we say,’We love it,’” she said.