DEADWOOD, S.D. (Feb. 13, 2017) – A sleek, advanced and more maneuverable ambulance will be placed in service for Lead-Deadwood Regional Hospital on Wednesday. It’s the latest and perhaps the most visible symbol of an emergency response change initiated last year.
But it’s just one of several important projects.
“Since the creation of the Senior Paramedic Program in March 2016, a human pulse has been restored in 77 percent of Lead-Deadwood Regional Hospital rescue responses for full cardiac arrest, compared with just 30 percent in the prior year,” said EMS Division Operational Manager Roy Goben.
The new team brings advanced medical protocols to emergencies in advance of an ambulance. It has been credited with saving at least one life in the past year. Meanwhile, the assistance provided by Senior Paramedics in the hospital emergency room has been credited with saving two others.
A ribbon cutting for the new Lead-Deadwood Regional Hospital ambulance will be held at noon on Wednesday, February 15. This latest purchase is part of a plan to regularly rotate ambulances out of service as they age. The other two ambulances currently in service have more than 100,000 miles on them.
The new European “sprinter” style of ambulance will be more compact, making it better for negotiating mountain roads, especially in winter when deep snow piles narrow the pavement.
“With older ambulances, sometimes there are just inches between vehicles,” Goben said. “The new ambulance is equal in capability to traditional ambulances, but it’s almost better from a safety standpoint.”
The sprinter, Goben said, “is a great ending to the commitment of Senior Paramedic Aaron Zimmiond."
The addition of a third ambulance will have little direct effect on the service provided, except to provide a backup during vehicle breakdowns.
“The new ambulance is a great resource for our service,” said Lead-Deadwood Regional Hospital and Market President Mark Schmidt. “The real assets are the dedicated, skilled, and compassionate EMS team members.”
For Schmidt and Goben, the new ambulance symbolizes greater changes.
Two years ago, Goben said, the fate of the ambulance service was in limbo. Since then, the commitment by Regional Health has enabled the ambulance service to acquire more employees and to restructure itself.
“What Regional Health did was remove roadblocks,” he said. “Four Senior Paramedics now run daily rescue operations, responding to all critical calls. That allows the hospital ambulance service to do the vast majority of hospital transfers.”
Senior Paramedics are called out at the same time as an ambulance in major emergencies, but their smaller vehicles typically arrive quicker. If a Lead-Deadwood ambulance is busy providing a transfer to Rapid City, Senior Paramedics are capable of handling a full arrest until a Spearfish ambulance arrives.
“Regional Health’s investment has truly benefitted the community,” Goben said. “The added people also make it possible to apply for grants and do other projects, including the purchase of the new ambulance. Other projects include a partnership with the local high school and bringing emergency medical technician classes back to the Lead-Deadwood hospital. In total, 15 projects have been undertaken.”
The ability to do the vast majority of hospital transfers in house helps pay for the program. Since the Senior Paramedic program was launched in March 2016, Goben said, “we’ve completed 99 percent of every transfer out of this hospital and covered every 911 call except for two.” In the year prior, the hospital spent $200,000 on transfers provided by outsiders.
Reaching the scene earlier, the senior paramedic brings lifesaving skills to the scene faster and when precious seconds matter most. It may well make the difference between life and death.
As stated by Deadwood Police Department Chief Kelly Fuller: “I cannot emphasize enough what a positive impact the senior paramedic program has made for our emergency services.”
For additional information on the ambulance ribbon cutting event, please contact Sarah Fuller at 605-755-9164. To learn more about Regional Health locations and services, please visit www.regionalhealth.org.
Regional Health is an integrated health care system with the purpose of helping patients and communities live well. The organization, with headquarters in Rapid City, S.D., provides community-based health care in more than 20 communities in two states and 32 specialty areas of medicine. As the largest private employer in western South Dakota, Regional Health is comprised of five hospitals, 24 clinic locations and employs nearly 5,000 physicians and caregivers. Regional Health is committed to the future of medicine, with medical training partnerships, a medical residency program, and more than 130 active research studies. For more information, go to www.regionalhealth.org.
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