On May 10, the two Vice Mayors of Reserve, certified to provide Advanced Life Support Services (ALS), demonstrated the new equipment they are using when responding to emergencies in Jasper County, particularly communities outside Newton that mostly rely on dedicated help from volunteers.
With their certifications and skills as paramedics, Reserve Representatives Steve Ashing and Jacob Halferty can provide more interventions and reduce waiting times for TEMSA calls. And when they respond to these situations, Ashing and Jacob Halferty know they’re coming ready.
Jacob Halverty demonstrated the heart monitor while Ashing demonstrated the Lund University Heart and Lung Assist System (LUCAS).
Purchasing a new heart monitor can cost around $35,000, which makes it somewhat difficult to obtain on budgets. Jacob Halferty said ALS MPs use this piece of equipment on nearly every call. Users can measure blood pressure, pulses, respiratory rates, and heart rate, among other functions.
“If someone’s heart rate is too low, we can give them a little shock through sanitary pads to increase their heart rate. Ultimately, if someone is in cardiac arrest, we can use it to shock their heart and bring it back into rhythm.”
The uncompressed portions on the sides of the screen show more tools. The great feature is the display’s compatibility with automated external defibrillators (AEDs), said Jacob Halferty. If a patient already has an AED running, deputies can separate the sanitary pads and place them in the monitor to save time.
Monitors can also send data to hospitals for incoming transmission, giving clinicians a head start on appropriate treatment.
Ashing made a LUCAS device demonstration on a CPR training dwarf. The device provides chest compressions when a patient is in cardiac arrest. Aching said anyone familiar with CPR knows that a person assigned to chest compressions is only meant for this job.
“This is a machine that does that for us,” Ashing said.
The American Heart Association has guidelines on how to respond to cardiac arrest. One of the biggest rules, Ashing said, is to apply as consistent and rhythmic pressure as possible. With a full battery, the LUCAS device can apply pressure for 45 consecutive minutes.
The problem with manual compression, Ashing said, is that the longer a person does it, the more fatigue they will get, which reduces the effectiveness of the compressions. The LUCAS device allows the rescuer to conserve energy for other tasks and provides the best survival for this patient.
Ashing said that two weeks ago ALS representatives were called to another patient who had had cardiac arrest and used the monitor and LUCAS machine. The monitor can record CPR pressure rates and quality. When first responders return to the wi-fi connection, the data is uploaded to a database.
“Okay, the people who registered this database called us the next day and said, ‘Hey! You guys had a code and did great clicks. That was great!’ – That was it,” Ashing said as he put his hand on the LUCAS device. “Yeah thanks! We did a great job, but we had the machine on it. So this thing is really useful.”
Literally too, because it provides a handful of hands for ALS MPs, who can have breathing treatments or IVs ready while the LUCAS device keeps the patient’s blood flowing.
“This is the Lovely A piece of equipment,” Ashing said.
Sharif shares details about the ALS program
In December 2021, Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty — who was also a volunteer with the Mingo Fire Department — brought up the idea of having Representatives take on some EMS work in order to provide some relief to first responder volunteers. CARES Act funds will be used to purchase additional equipment and program transformations.
Other than the Newton Fire Department, all community fire stations in the county are primarily operated by volunteers. John Halferty said first responder services in smaller towns are doing a “fabulous” job and are able to respond to most calls, but sometimes the ALS or paramedic service is sorely needed.
The mayor’s office has been a non-transportation ALS since 2015. This means there are employees who have met the requirements to be licensed and certified as Emergency Medical Technicians or above and can provide care, but they don’t have an ambulance transporting patients, said John Halferty.
“They can respond and they can provide care at their practice level, but they have to have agreements in place called transport agreements with services that have an ambulance so the patient can be transported,” explained John Halferty.
For example, Mingo is a non-transfer BLS service that has a transit agreement with neighboring Colfax. When there is a call at Mingo, John Halferty said that two groups of first responders are being sent to the scene.
In the county, every emergency service has signed a relocation agreement with the mayor’s office. Regardless of where the call takes place, if ALS or BLS representatives assist the call, that jurisdiction’s ambulance will be dispatched to work together or to take care of the patient, John Halferty said.
For the next 18 months or so, the mayor’s office will be testing the new ALS program. From there, John Halferty said he’ll decide whether it’s worth keeping him.
“I always want to acknowledge and thank our first responder services for being the core or foundation of EMS response in this county,” said John Halferty, noting that the majority are volunteers. “…I think (the program) is definitely a positive or progressive movement.”
Program results in two months
So far, the program seems to be working fine.
The Sheriff’s Office continues to receive praise for the program. John Halferty said the mayor’s office does about 12 shifts a month, 12 hours a day to help cover needs. The Sheriff’s Office can adjust times as needed. Currently, shifts between 8am and 8pm seem to get a lot of calls.
In 2021, the sheriff’s office assisted with 25 EMS calls. That number is a little low because of the pandemic and also because the department hasn’t always reported everything when it comes to helping another service, John Halferty said. But because of the new program, employees have responded to more calls.
On average, the mayor’s office assists with about 40 EMS calls. ALS MPs have so far exceeded that response volume.
“As of this year, we have made 42 calls to the service where EMS was needed — 32 of those calls were for ALS,” said John Halferty, referring to certified personnel who provided or assisted with primary care. “…in many cases, they actually rode the ambulance to the medical facility with the EMS crew to provide care.”
The other ten were Basic Life Support (BLS) calls that EMTs were able to handle and provide care for. John Halferty said there was one incident when a major fire broke out in a fire department structure when a serious medical call was requested. An ALS deputy was nearby and responded.
“He’s been able to work with that department,” John Halferty said. “It was actually what we call the ‘symbol,’ someone had cardiac arrest.”
Unfortunately, first responders were unsuccessful in resuscitating the patient. Despite the end result, it still showed a “very quick response” time as the ALS deputy was able to reach the scene with the right equipment to ensure the patient received the best possible care under the scenario.
“I hope it will be successful and that the board will continue to support it and that we will continue to fund it,” said John Halferty. “Two people asked me, ‘Do you think you’re going to add employees? “If the trend continues, I think there is definitely potential for us to add more people to work.”
Call Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or [email protected]