By David Bruce
Getting prompt medical care to Presque Isle State Park visitors has always been a concern of park and local hospital officials.
It can take an ambulance up to 30 minutes to arrive at the scene of a heart attack, fall or near-drowning at the park, said Jean Thompson, R.N., prehospital business development specialist for Allegheny Health Network, Saint Vincent Hospital’s parent organization.
“We have been providing medical training to the park’s lifeguards and we saw a need for quicker advanced life support,” Thompson said.
Starting Wednesday, an AHN paramedic will work at Presque Isle whenever the beaches are open for swimming. They will be stationed near Beach 7 and travel in a side-by-side style medical utility vehicle purchased by AHN.
Instead of taking up to 30 minutes to arrive at the scene of a serious illness or injury, the paramedic will be there within five minutes, Thompson said.
“While the lifeguard will continue to provide the initial medical care, the paramedic will be able to do things like a 12-lead electrocardiogram, put in an IV or give medications on the scene,” Thompson said.
Though the paramedics are employed by AHN, they will work with the park’s lifeguards, Millcreek Paramedic Service and West Lake Fire Department to coordinate care and transport.
The utility vehicle cost about $20,000, said Christopher Clark, D.O., Saint Vincent president. The paramedics’ salaries are also covered by AHN.
“It’s an investment AHN is making to the community,” Clark said. “The park has about 4 million visitors and an estimated 300 medical events a year. It’s important to get a quicker response time to these events.”
Paramedic coverage will last through the park’s swimming season and continue for subsequent summers, AHN officials said in a news release.
“With this new service, we are pleased to be able to provide Presque Isle State Park visitors, who are in need, with prehospital support as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said Matt Greene, the park’s operations manager.
This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: AHN paramedics to patrol, provide life support service at Presque Isle State Park this summer
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