Ambulance staff brings thanks and lemon cakes to county comission
By Suzanne Dean
MANTI—Sanpete County Commissioners got a thank-you in the form of three lemon cakes and took a look at what some of the county’s CARES Act money had purchased during a commission meeting last Tuesday, Jan. 19.
CARES stands for Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The measure, passed by Congress in March, 2020, included relief funding for individuals, small businesses and local governments.
Sanpete County’s allocation was about $3 million. In November, the commissioners allocated about $1.7 million of that for various emergency services needs, including self-contained breathing apparatus units for fire departments and new ambulances and emergency medical equipment for the North Sanpete, Ephraim, Manti and Gunnison Valley ambulance companies.
Each organization receiving funds had to put in a 10 percent match. Ambulance associations or fire departments receiving lesser amounts faced smaller matching requirements.
In the Gunnison Valley, ambulance services are sponsored by Gunnison Valley Hospital. The county gave the hospital just under $260,000 for a new ambulance, while the hospital put in 10 percent of that amount, or about $26,000.
“It was a heck of a deal,” said Mark Dalley, hospital administrator.
It was Dalley, accompanied by Liz Brown, human resources director at the hospital, and Vikki McClasky, an advanced EMT and director of emergency services, who dropped by the commission meeting last week with the lemon cakes and then took commissioners outside to look at the new Gunnison Valley ambulance.
The diesel-powered vehicle, complete with a Gunnison Valley Bulldog mascot on the outside, was manufactured by Braun Northwest in Chehallis, Wash., a branch of one of the main custom ambulance builders in the United States.
McClasky and Mindy Bjarnson, EMT training coordinator, flew to Washington Dec. 20 to pick up the ambulance and drive it back to the Gunnison Valley. The ambulance went into service Dec. 28. Gunnison Valley now has three ambulances.
“It’s already been on several transports,” Dalley said.
McClasky demonstrated a “power load” gurney that rolls out of the ambulance automatically rather than EMTs pulling it out. Once most of the bed is outside the truck, legs automatically unfold until the gurney is standing on the ground.
McClasky said the automated gurney accounted for $10,000 of the ambulance cost. “This is the best $10,000 anyone could spend on a gurney,” she said.
The other three ambulance companies in the county received varying amounts and spent the CARES money in various ways.
Under CARES guidelines, all equipment had to be ordered and paid for by Dec. 31, 2020. The Ephraim Ambulance Association was not able to complete purchase of an ambulance by the deadline, said Christi Johnson, association president. So it spent its allocation of $285,690 for equipment.
However, the county assistance with equipment will free up some of the association’s own funds. So the organization has ordered a new ambulance for delivery in June.
Some of the Ephraim’s major purchases included three Lifepacks, packs containing pulse and blood-pressure monitors along with automated external defibrillators. Each of those cost $40,000. One pack will go on its two existing ambulances and one on the new ambulance.
The association also bought two power-load systems with gurneys, similar to the automated projecting gurneys on the new Gunnison ambulance. Those came to about $35,000 total, Johnson said.
Finally, the association purchased two automated CPR machines and two ventilators at a total cost of about $70,000.
The purchases “will get things really updated,” Johnson said.
The North Sanpete Ambulance Association received $285,647 and followed the same pattern as Ephraim in spending the money.
It wasn’t able to purchase an ambulance by the deadline, so it spend the funds on equipment, according to Bryan Bench, association president.
The association bought three Lifepacks and three power-load gurneys for its three ambulances. It also bought automated CPR machines and “stair chairs,” wheelchairs with tracks for taking a patient up or down stairs.
Like Ephraim, North Sanpete also ordered a new ambulance, which it will pay for with its own funds and which it expects to arrive mid-year.
The county grant came just in time for the Manti Ambulance Association, JoLynn Hodson, association president, said.
One of Manti’s ambulances collided with a deer in early 2020 and was out of service. The association had ordered a new ambulance, and the county money came just in time to pay for the new unit.
Manti purchased its new ambulance from Rocky Mountain Ambulance of Hurricane, Washington County. The vehicle, which arrived in December, is a four-wheel drive Chevrolet X35L.
“We’re waiting for equipment to put it in service,” Hodson said.
Using the county funds, the Manti association also ordered a power-load gurney, a Lifepack and two automated CPR machines, one for the new ambulance and one for its existing ambulances.