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Cleveland Heights to buy new ambulance, medical equipment

The Cleveland Heights Fire Department will receive a new squad and devices to help those who need CPR or their heart activity monitored

Cleveland Heights to buy new ambulance, medical equipment

The Cleveland Heights Fire Department will receive a new ambulance and equipment to help people who are in cardiac arrest or need their heart activity monitored. 

At Monday night’s council meeting, members passed an ordinance to purchase an ambulance, which will cost no more than $242,000 and has four seats in the front cabin instead of the typical two-seat squad and includes all accessories.

“We’re trying to maximize a fireman’s utility. We can put them in a vehicle that will help them achieve their dual purpose as paramedics and firefighters,” said Chief Kevin Mohr of the Cleveland Heights Fire Department, who also added that the patient compartment would be the same size. “The (cabin) allows those gentleman or ladies to respond to a fire, be belted in, and have their breathing packs on as well.  When they reach the fire scene, they’re ready to go, and they’ve arrived in a safer fashion.”

Mohr said that if the economy was in better shape, the department may have received the new squad last year as the current squad is about eight years old and has needed repairs. 

“We’re probably putting in more money in parts than is really justified. You want to retire it out when it’s comfortable,” Mohr said. “We were still OK, we weren’t in any huge safety problems, but you begin to throw money at it and it’s better to retire it.”

Once the ambulance is built in about six months, the department, which made 5,500 fire and emergency medical service runs last year, will have a brand new primary squad and a four-year-old secondary squad.  

Mohr is not sure what the department will do with the old squad, but options include trading it in or putting it up for auction.

The city will also buy two chest compression devices that actually do half of the work of CPR, he said. Normally, one paramedic works on opening patients’ airways and performing breathing exercises while another presses on patients’ chests to get their heart beating normally again.

The machine helps free up one paramedic who can regulate patients’ vital signs, help another person who needs medical attention or administer drugs, Mohr said. The department has two, and they have made paramedics more efficient.

The fire department will also add four monitor/defibrillator systems to its existing two, which display heart activity and can also shock patients if they go into cardiac arrest. 

“It doesn’t matter who shows up at your house from Cleveland Heights, they have the ability to perform advanced life support,” he said, as the machines are distributed among the emergency vehicles. “The monitor we use frequently … We can get a very, very good picture of what’s happening to their heart, and if they go into an arrest we can use it as a defibrillator.”

The total cost of the monitors and compression devices is about $132,000, which includes a $9,000 credit for trading in four older devices. Eighty percent of that, or about $105,600, is being paid for by a federal grant called the Assistance to Firefighter Grant, according to documents from City Council, which approved the purchase of this equipment Monday.  

“This refresh in technology along with the replacement of the squad all contributes to making us not only maintain our efficiency, but takes us up a notch because every time we upgrade our technology, we’re able to better service the patient,” Mohr said. “We’re certainly more effective and certainly more efficient than we were before. And in the case of the squad, we’re safer because the guys can arrive better prepared and belted in.”

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