With the help of a $44,660 federal grant, paramedics who respond to emergencies in Rockland County will soon have new equipment to improve treatment of firefighters and fire victims who suffer smoke inhalation.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, announced the grant has been approved through the Department of Homeland Security for Rockland Paramedic Services Inc. of Nanuet, which provides full-time paramedic service under contracts with all five Rockland towns.
Rockland Paramedics Executive Director Raymond Florida said the grant will put two pulse oximeters on each paramedic truck so paramedics can check oxygen levels in the blood and test for possible carbon monoxide poisoning. Florida said the pulse oximeters, which attach to a patient's hand, will allow paramedics to determine faster whether a patient needs specialized treatment.
"We are really excited about this grant," said Florida. "It is really important especially in helping us treat firefighters at the scene of a fire."
Florida said the pulse oximeters plug into existing equipment on paramedic rigs and will provide a quick assessment of a patient's condition. Florida noted that the grant comes amid a spate of fires in Rockland County in which volunteer firefighters have suffered various levels of smoke inhalation.
Florida said that at the scene of a fire, paramedics must assess whether a smoke inhalation victim needs oxygen to recover or might need to be rushed to specialized treatment centers that have facilties such as hyperbaric chambers.
"This is a great investment for Rockland County," Gillibrand said in announcing the grant. "It is critical that our firefighters and first responders have the tools and resources they need to keep our community safe. Carbon monoxide monitoring equipment will help save lives and ensure our first responders have the information they need to effectively respond to emergencies."
Throughout Rockland, the staff of Rockland Paramedics provides advanced lifesaving treatment and works in concert with volunteers of local ambulance corps units.
Florida noted that paramedics work in teams of two and frequently split up to either stay with a patient in the ambulance or respond to another emergency. So, having two pulse oximeters on each rig means each paramedic will have the right equipment at the right time to save a life.