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Ambulance District Focuses on Training, Staff Safety

By Mark Evans

With winter nearing, the Ste. Genevieve County Ambulance District is staying focus toward staff training and keeping its personnel healthy.

That specifically includes protecting them in every way possible from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Executive director Kendall Shrum reported at last Thursday night’s monthly board meeting that no positive cases have turned up among the crew.

“We’re trying to keep it that way,” Shrum said. “We’re still encouraging them [to take precautions]. They’re wearing masks on every call, wearing gowns when necessary; we’re masking  our patients; we’re doing all the precationaries.”

Having the first-line emergency providers down with the caronavirus would be a nightmare scenario and one crew member contracting it could quickly knock the rest out of action for at least two weeks.

“We’re one or two people  away from disaster and that’s what I keep reminding the staff,” Shrum said. “We have to be diligent on this. We’ve got to protect ourselves. They area ware of that and are taking care of that.”

Meanwhile, training has taken place including on the district’s new Lucas 3.1 chest compression systems and McGrath MAC EMS video laryngoscope, obtained this fall with Ste. Genevieve County’s federal Caronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security [CARES] Act money.

In January, Air Evac will come in and give a test and “skills review” for the paramedics, which will include mastery of the new video laryngoscope.

“We’ll make sure everybody’s up to par and we can show that as part of their training records and show the community that we are staying on top of our training, even with all this other stuff going on,” Shrum said.

“During the winter months, typically, it’s a little bit slower for us on activities, so we can do some of that in-house training and some of that stuff through the winter months,”
Shrum added.

Of course the crews were still making plenty of runs.

In October, the district responded to 224 total calls, up from 207  in October 2019 and 206 two years ago. Of those, 183 were emergencies, up from 147 a year ago and 134 two years ago.

One statistic Shrum noted was “refusals,” when a patient opts not to be transported to a hospital.  There were 56, nearly double the 31 of October 2019 and the 30 of October 2018.

“We’re seeing a little bit of a trend of people not wanting to go to the hospital,” Shrum said.

Apparently this stems from a  concern on coming into contact with COVID-19 patients.

For the year, there had been 1,993 calls, “slightly down” from the 2,025 calls through October 2019, tough up from the 1,952 total in 2018. Of those, 1,452 had been emergency calls, compare to 1,4439 in 2019 and 1,397 in 2018.