Rural MT Ambulance Service Raising Money for Cardiac Equipment

File Photo

Jeremy Weber

Daily Inter Lake, Kalispell, Mont.


Dec. 23—Those who help people when they need it the most are in need of a little help themselves this holiday season as Three Rivers EMS in Columbia Falls is searching for funding to replace aging Zoll E-Series ambulance cardiac monitors.

A nonprofit ambulance service, Three Rivers EMS provides advanced life-support care to a large rural area including Columbia Falls, Hungry Horse, Martin City, Coram, West Glacier, Glacier National Park, Essex, and responds to mutual aid requests in Evergreen and Whitefish. The second-largest ambulance service in the Flathead Valley, Three Rivers EMS responds to an average of 1,400 calls a year.

While the number of calls in 2020 has been average, many of the calls have been COVID-19 related, meaning that use of a cardiac monitor is essential. The problem being faced by the ambulance service is that their current monitors will no longer be certified for use or serviced by their manufacturer as of February, meaning the units in two of its three ambulances must be replaced.

With a cost of $18,000 for a new unit or $32,000 for a new one, finding the funding for the much-needed equipment has not been easy.

“Yes, they are super expensive, but they are so beneficial in so many ways. Those devices allow us to take an EKG in the ambulance and transmit the info to the hospital so they know what they will be dealing with when we arrive,” Three Rivers EMT Misty Archer-Westgard said. “It’s a huge life-saving measure that really cuts down on delays trying to determine the proper treatment. This is equipment we need to have.”

With the help of a $15,000 Major Community Project Grant from the Whitefish Community Foundation earlier this month and an $8,000 Round-Up for Safety grant, Three Rivers EMS has been able to purchase one refurbished cardiac monitor from Kalispell Regional Medical Center’s A.L.E.R.T. Air Ambulance, but funding is still needed for units for the remaining two ambulances..

‘We have received a few small grants here and there that didn’t involve us having to do a lot of research, but for the most part we don’t have a grant writer right now,” Archer-Westgard said. “Any kind of donation to help us out would be amazing and it will benefit everyone in the community.”

In addition, Archer-Westgard said that if anyone with grant writing experience would be willing to help their cause, it would be greatly appreciated.

“We need to have accurate equipment that will provide us with everything we need so we can provide the patient the best care possible while en route to the hospital,” she said.

In addition to the cardiac monitors, Three Rivers EMS is also looking at several other expensive projects, including the need to replace two of its three aging ambulances within the next five years as well as the need for a third LUCAS device, a machine that does CPR compressions, freeing up the EMTs to take on other life saving tasks.

Individuals and businesses interested in learning more should contact Archer-Westgard at (406) 892-4244 for information.

Reporter Jeremy Weber can be reached at


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