Vinton Volunteer First Aid Crew Chief Wayne Guffey presented his organization’s budget request for FY 2019 to Vinton Town Council at its meeting on February 20.
The Vinton First Aid Crew was founded in 1939 and provides emergency pre-hospital care as well as public service assistance to the citizens of the Town of Vinton and East Roanoke County.
Members also provide EMS standby assistance for large public, municipal and private events. In 2017, the crew responded to over 1,400 calls for service and volunteers donated over 20,000 man-hours to serve the citizens. Guffey said that the EMS has a “profound impact on our citizens.”
The First Aid Crew received $17,000 from the Town of Vinton in FY 2018, $5,100 from Roanoke County, and $2,440 from Virginia 4 Life. It is requesting that Town Council approve $20,000 in the budget for the First Aid Crew in FY 2019.
In his PowerPoint demonstration, Guffey detailed what the $20,000 is needed for: $9,000 for the replacement of a heart monitor, $2,000 for purchase of a McGrath Laryngoscope, $2,000 for medical supplies, $5,000 for training, and $2,000 for uniforms.
The crew’s current heart monitor, which uses older technology, was purchased in 2008 with a state grant. The replacement monitor would be either the Lifepack 15 or the Zoll X Series and has the newest technology including CO2 monitoring. The Lifepack 15 is what Roanoke County uses; the Zoll is what Roanoke Memorial Hospital uses, which Guffey says means the Vinton crew could get supplies there “instead of having to pay.”
The estimated cost of the replacement heart monitor and accessories is $40,000. Guffey plans to apply for a Rescue Squad Assistance Fund grant to meet part of the cost. There are two ways to apply: either a 50/50 grant with the state paying $20,000 and the crew $20,000 or an 80/20 grant with the state paying $32,000 and the Vinton crew $8,800 (preferred by the crew).
As for the McGrath Laryngoscope, there has been a change in medical protocols giving each agency’s Operational Medical Director (OMD) the choice of whether to let First Aid Crew medics intubate.
“Our OMD is going to let us continue to intubate, which is a skill to obtain and maintain an airway when a patient is not breathing,” said Guffey. “In order to make this an easier and faster skill, our OMD and I have decided that we should have a McGrath Laryngoscope to assist in obtaining an airway.”
The equipment has a camera that allows the medic (paramedics and EMT-1) to see the vocal cords and pass the breathing tube quickly, so an airway can be obtained.
Guffey said that the everyday cost of medical supplies only gets more expensive each year and not everything the crew uses is replaceable at the hospital. For example, the pads used to shock someone’s heart cost $55 each. Stocking a first aid kit is upwards of $500.
Funds for training are included due to a growing number of new members who need basic training. Members attend the EMS Symposium and VAVRS Conference each year. Participation in the EMS Symposium is $185 per member to register, plus travel, lodging, and per diem, amounting to $900-$1,000 per member.
The Vinton First Aid Crew endeavors to act and look professional at all times. Members are provided T-shirts, sweatshirts, duty pants, and a winter coat.
Guffy noted that in 2015 the First Aid Crew had 39 members, which has grown to 53 as of February 2018 with six more in the application process. Twenty-eight are EMTs, with one advanced EMT, 13 medics, 10 in training, and one driver only.
During the council meeting, Guffey also shared the statistics from activities of the First Aid Crew in January. The volunteer truck was manned 100 percent of the time for 468 hours with a unit in service 100 percent of the time. Of the 227 calls received in January, volunteers responded to 129 on nights, weekends, and holidays, with the career staff responding to 98 calls between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The Advanced Life Support truck was marked up 95 percent of the time; the Basic Life Support truck, 5 percent.
The fractile response time was 9.56 minutes, when 12 minutes is standard. First Aid Crew members donated 1,815 hours of service to the community in January. There were 136 transports last month with volunteers conducting 56 and the career staff 80.