Poppy fund upgrades ambulance equipment

Remembrance Day poppy donors are breathing new life into ambulance patients.

Red Deer fire-medic Michael Mallais shows off Emergency Services’ new transport ventilator. The piece of equipment ventilates a patient automatically

Red Deer fire-medic Michael Mallais shows off Emergency Services’ new transport ventilator. The piece of equipment ventilates a patient automatically

Remembrance Day poppy donors are breathing new life into ambulance patients.

Red Deer Emergency Services began using two new transport ventilators, which helps patients to breathe on their own, in January. The equipment, which cost $18,000 and was drawn from the Poppy Fund of the Red Deer’s Royal Canadian Legion, is proving to be helpful during long-distance transfers to Calgary and Edmonton.

Deputy fire chief Gregory Adair said one is kept in an ambulance that does most of the transfers. It’s located at Station 5, which is found in Edgar on the city’s north side.

The other transport ventilator is kept inside Station 1, closest to Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.

The ventilators are for patients who are not breathing on their own. They are intubated, which means a tube has been placed down the mouth and into their lungs.

The ventilator equipment is hooked onto oxygen and allows the fire-medics to set certain values to exactly what the patient needs. It is portable as well, so it doesn’t need to be in the ambulance to be used. It takes less than a minute to be set up.

“It actually improves patient outcome because we’re ventilating to respiratory rate and depth,” said Adair. “It’s hard to do that manually.”

Formerly, fire-medics used a bag valve mask, so they had to squeeze the bag to give the patient air.

“Your hands cramp,” said Adair. “And how do you be precise? The (new equipment) makes it almost text book.”

Adair figures the apparatus is used once every two weeks.

Patients with head injuries, post cardiac arrest or major trauma may end up being on a transport ventilator.

“Is it going to save their life? No, but it’s certainly going to help,” Adair said.

Not every ambulance service would have this kind of equipment because it’s costly.

“You won’t see this as standard equipment on ambulances,” he added.

Fortunately, he said members of the Red Deer Legion branch thought it was a good idea.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com