By Jimmy Fisher
PITTSTON — Saving lives just got easier.
The Pittston Ambulance Association recently received new cardiac monitoring equipment from Philips Technology to help keep patients alive in emergency situations.
According to Greater Pittston Regional Ambulance Deputy Chief Ed Szafran, the new technology will help paramedics stay in contact with local hospitals through a built-in Wi-Fi system. These two units also inform them of the patient’s blood type and heart rate.
“The data (advancements) with the Wi-Fi and the modems, talking to the hospitals back and forth, gives us a quicker way of transferring data to hospitals,” said Szafran. “There’s built-in oxygen monitoring, built-in blood pressure monitoring, built-in capnography monitoring which is how we monitor the way people are breathing.”
The cost for the new cardiac monitoring equipment is about $20,000 per unit, which Szafran said was raised through grants and funding from the city.
“We applied for grants and low-interest loans through the fire commissioner’s office and some of our local banking partners,” said Szafran. “We asked for some help from the city and for grants and we were able to secure some grant money through the Redevelopment Authority who were very gracious in giving us a very sizeable amount in acquiring the monitors.”
Going hand-in-hand with the new cardiac monitors is the LUCAS chest compression system for CPR-related emergencies.
With the chest compression system, patients will be placed onto a small backboard which lines up the correct position for compressions.
From there, the system will deliver CPR by pressing down on the patient’s chest which Szafran said will free paramedics’ hands.
“Bouncing someone around in the back of an ambulance is not safe and doing compressions by hand after a minute will wear you out, no matter what shape you’re in,” said Szafran. “This machine is completely automated, doesn’t get tired, you can replace a battery or run it off power out of a wall and it’ll never get tired. The only way it will get tired is if you break it. It gives good, quality, consistent compressions for as long as you’re running the cardiac monitor.”
Acquiring all of this new equipment took time, Szafran said.
“The fact that we were new customers, we kind of got pushed back,” said Szafran. “But now that we’re customers, in five years when we replace this model, we’ll send the entire unit out to Philips Technology and they’ll send us back a completely refurbished unit for one-fifth of the price of what we paid for a brand new one. Every five years, we’re going to be getting new technology at one fifth of the price which is huge, because in five years that new unit is going to cost more and we can’t afford to be spending $18,000 or more every five years.”
Reach Jimmy Fisher at 570-704-3972 or on Twitter @SD_JimmyFisher