The following article was published in the Kent County News highlighting our purchase of a new LifePak 15 cardiac monitor/defibrillator.
CHESTERTOWN — First-responders here have added a state-of-the-art heart monitor/defibrillator that will pay for itself many times over in the number of lives that are saved.
The Kent-Queen Anne’s Rescue Squad recently placed in service a Lifepak 15, the most up-to-date monitor on the market. It replaces a Lifepak 12 that was 16 years old.
Chief Allan Schauber says the goal is to upgrade three of the transport unit Lifepak 12s to Lifepak 15s, and upgrade one chase unit Lifepak 12 to Lifepak 15 capabilities, at an estimated total cost of $118,000. He is hoping a federal Assistance to Firefighters grant will absorb as much as 95 percent of the cost.
The squad paid tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket this summer to purchase the first Lifepak 15 monitor after doing some fundraising on its own.
“We’ve always bought the best equipment we could afford because our community deserves it. They’ve always supported us,” Schauber said. “It’s important to us that they know how we are spending their money.”
In May and June of 2014, the rescue squad offered family portraits in a partnership with G&G Photography. At the conclusion of that fundraiser, a community member, who asked not to be identified, pledged a 100-percent match. Memorial donations that were deposited in a special equipment account made up the balance for the $30,000 purchase.
The upgrade to a Lifepak 15 allows the rescue squad to offer better patient care, reducing the door-to-medical intervention time and providing lifesaving treatment.
The Lifepak 15 provides all the monitoring features of the Lifepak 12 — which was introduced in 1998 — but is much more advanced. For example, it can monitor the patient’s carbon monoxide level, allowing emergency medical personnel to detect possible poisoning.
Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is colorless, odorless, tasteless and initially nonirritating. Because it’s difficult to detect, it is often a silent killer.
Also, the new monitor can track subtle changes in the ST segment, which will alert the paramedic to transport the patient to a cardiac intervention center. The Lifepak 15 contains a CPR metronome that assists emergency personnel in providing chest compressions at the correct rate.
It also allows for a 12-lead electrocardiogram to be transmitted to the local emergency department or the nearest heart center. This lets the ER physician and the cardiologist to prepare for advanced interventions. “It gets the docs ready and up to speed, so time isn’t wasted,” said Schauber.
The monitor is able to upload the EKG and other vital signs directly into Maryland’s electronic patient care reporting system. This reduces time and, more importantly, reduces documentation errors. Previously, everything had to be handwritten.
Generally, said Schauber, the Lifepak 15 replaces an outdated monitor. “Everything about it is better,” he said. “It’s lighter, the batteries last longer, there is less interference” in the wireless transmission of vital signs.
“In the field, it allows us to treat the patient quicker, better and to relay the information to the appropriate docs so they can make potential lifesaving decisions quicker and more efficiently.”
The Kent-Queen Anne’s Rescue Squad, now in its 55th year, has 43 volunteers and a paid staff — known as career personnel — of two full-time Emergency Medical Technicians, six part-time EMTs and seven part-time paramedics. The career staff supplements the volunteers, providing coverage from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day of the year.
The squad answered 1,627 calls in 2014. Through the end of August of this year, there were nearly 1,100 calls for service.
Kent-Queen Anne’s is a misnomer as the rescue squad now responds to emergencies primarily in and around Chestertown —including Quaker Neck, Fairlee, parts of Worton, Old Morgnec Road, and along state Route 213 approaching Kennedyville.
According to Schauber, the squad originally responded all the way to Betterton in Kent County and to Sudlersville in Queen Anne’s County. The geographical response area has gotten smaller as volunteer fire companies have added ambulances and both counties have established a paid paramedic program.