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Rural EMS could Reap $150 Million

Congress authorized a new Rural Firefighters and EMS Assistance Program in May (as part of the ˙Farm BillÓ), which could provide up to $30 million in grants a year for the next five years-totaling $150 million. However, the EMS community will still need to convince federal lawmakers to actually appropriate those funds each year.

The grants could be used for recruiting, retaining or training volunte Laster or paid EMS personnel; buying EMS vehicles and equipment; training firefighters in EMS; training EMS personnel in injury prevention; improving training facilities, equipment or programs; providing public education or CPR training; or developing new ways to educate EMS providers.

The original legislation had stipulated that ambulance services, fire departments, tribal EMS agencies, state EMS offices, rural health offices and state EMS associations would be eligible for grants. But the final bill excluded for-profit ambulance services as a nod to the International Association of Fire Chiefs and International Association of Fire Fighters, which had urged lawmakers to vote against the program and fully fund the Fire and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants programs instead.

The lobbying organization Advocates for EMS credits the bill's passage to the efforts of Gary Wingrove, director of government relations and strategic affairs for Mayo Clinic's Gold Cross Medical Transportation in Minnesota (a non-profit), and Tyron Picard, executive vice president for legal and governmental affairs for Acadian Ambulance in Louisiana (a for-profit).

Kudos to Wingrove, Picard and all the members of Congress who took the first step toward giving rural EMS some sorely needed financial help.

EMS Gets a Bad Rap

Rocky Robinson, co-founder of Bedford-Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corps (BSVAC) in Brooklyn, N.Y., insists he was duped into letting rapper ˙PapooseÓ feature a BSVAC unit and paramedics in a violent music video and is threatening to sue. The video begins with a shooting and then shows paramedics in the back of an ambulance working on a bleeding man, while Papoose chants about shooting a rival who will ˙die in an ambulance.Ó

˙His people told us the video wouldbe aboutthe neighborhood and how we respond to save lives,Ó Robinson told the New York Daiiy News. ˙We don't want to be part of something where somebody gets hurt.Ó Last month, we gave a Thumbs Down to the bureaucracy preventing BSVAC from moving its headquarters into a donated trailer. This month, the downward digit is directed at Papoose for turning BSVAC lifesavers into unwitting accomplices in this ugly video.



Saving Other Species

Ron Albrecht, a paramedic with Newton County Ambulance Service (NCAS) in Enos, Ind., has gotten a lot of ribbing for some of his life-saving feats. Three years ago, a frantic couple showed up at an NCAS station in the middle of the night and handed Albrecht a small, limp body. Their daughter's pet ferret had something stuck in its throat and was having problems breathing.

Fortunately, Albrecht had just finished a Texas A&M extension course on animal rescue and happened to have a pair of needle-nose pliers in his jacket pocket. From the animal's mouth, he pulled out a zipper attached to a cord that had become caught on its teeth. Then, he used blow-by oxygen to revive the animal and rubbed its stomach to stimulate it. After a few minutes, the ferret was back to his usual frisky behavior.

This February, Albrecht responded to a house fire and saw two dogs removed from the structure. He noted signs of life in the pit bull, but hesitated for a moment, wondering what his boss would think. But there were no injured humans, and he wasn't doing anything else, so he decided to go for it. After taking the dog's vitals and finding congested lung sounds, Albrecht started an IV with dextrose and water, administered Lasix and put an 02 mask over the animal's snout. An ambulance crewmember then called a vet, who agreed to meet the crew at her office. The dog fully recovered.

On hearing of the incident, Albrecht's boss reportedly said, ˙I would have been more upset if you hadn't done anything; we couldn't buy this kind of PR. Just don't go making a habit of it.Ó

But just three weeks later, an NCAS paramedic arrived at the station with a mastiff puppy that had fallen into a ditch, impaling itself on a 2" stick and nicking an artery in its throat. Albrecht applied a cold compress directly to the wound, started a line and administered 500 cc of fluids. Another save.

Thumbs Up to Albrecht for saving pets, as well as people, and for maintaining his professionalism and sense of humor when people call him ˙The Dog Medic.Ó

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