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Va. rescue squad lands $200K grant

The volunteer squad will use the money to update six ambulances with automatic loading cot systems that can hold 700-pound patients

By Robyn Sidersky
The Virginian-Pilot

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The Kempsville Volunteer Rescue Squad in Virginia Beach won the largest amount of grant money in its 65-year history — nearly $200,000 from two organizations — and has big plans for it.

The ambulances will be outfitted with new gurneys that will hold up to 700 pounds each and will be safer for both patients and first responders, said Kevin Lipscomb, the president of the Kempsville Volunteer Rescue Squad.

It will be the first squad in Virginia Beach to have every ambulance outfitted with the new technology, he said. The squad has five ambulances, and will soon have a sixth, he said.

The gurneys the department has now are about 50 years old and can be a problem if an ambulance is involved in a crash.

The new equipment won’t have that issue.

“These systems do a much better job of securing the patient in case the ambulance is involved in a collision,” he said.

Kempsville isn’t the only local squad to get the new gurneys. The Ocean Park squad got them in August, and others in Hampton Roads such as Chesapeake use it as well.

“There has been a nationwide push to replace that technology with much more robust technology that will secure the gurneys, even if they roll over,” he said.

Another reason the new gurneys will be safer is because they will be better able to hold heavier patients. Because the population is getting heavier, crews have to lift heavier patients, and workers wind up with back injuries. Those could career-ending, he said.

The new gurneys, called the Stryker Power-LOAD, will each hold about 700 pounds, he said. With a combination of electronics and hydraulics, it essentially does the heavy lifting.

“There is a motor that powers a hydraulic pump and takes the weight of the gurney and the patient and lifts it to the level of the ambulance and the EMT just has to slide it in,” Lipscomb said

In its grant application, Lipscomb said they wrote about the increased number of emergencies the squad is handling, the additional crews they are fielding, and the large and highly populated area the squad is responsible for.

The grant money, which came from state Rescue Squad Assistance Fund and the Virginia Beach Rescue Squad Foundation, covers most of the cost of the gurneys, but not all of it. Lipscomb said The squad still needs about $101,000 in matching funds to purchase the new equipment, but they are well on their way to accomplishing that, he said.

It will take about a year for the new equipment to come to the squad, Lipscomb said.

Kempsville is one of 10 rescue squads in Virginia Beach, and all together, they respond to about 45,000 calls annually, Lipscomb said.


(c)2016 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.)

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