Weekly Feature

2013-12-04 / Front Page

Paramedic Unit receives six new cardiac monitors


Paramedic Supervisor Michael Baumgartner introduces the new Zoll cardiac monitors at a press conference in the police station. 
Photo by Naomi Spencer Paramedic Supervisor Michael Baumgartner introduces the new Zoll cardiac monitors at a press conference in the police station. Photo by Naomi Spencer Speed is everything in medical emergencies, and the Town of Tonawanda Paramedic Unit gained some with its six new Zoll cardiac monitors, unveiled last week during a press conference at the police station, where the unit is based.

The purchase of this equipment, costing approximately $200,000, was made possible through a partnership between the James V. Ryan Paramedic Foundation and the Town of Tonawanda. Representatives from both organizations were present at the unveiling.

One of the many functions of the new monitors is that they enable paramedics to send information from an electrocardiogram, which is a record of the electrical activity of the heart, directly to the hospital within seconds. Previously, it would take an average of five minutes. By the time the person arrives at the hospital, medical staff have already reviewed critical information.

“Especially with someone who is having a cardiac issue, time is muscle,” said Michael Baumgartner, paramedic supervisor, “and when your heart is not receiving oxygenated blood, it’s dying. So it’s very important for us to be recognizing that, and it’s also very important for us to relay that information to the hospital so that when the patient gets there, they can be seen very quickly, and hopefully the damage to the muscle that occurs is minimal.”

Town Supervisor Anthony Caruana thanked the foundation for its donation, noting that last year, the foundation donated an emergency response vehicle to the unit.

“We are extremely pleased with them,” he said, “and we thank them for giving our residents the best possible treatment they can get before they actually get to an emergency room.”

Fay Ryan, chairperson of the foundation, said that it was almost an “impossible dream” to purchase the monitors, and she’s grateful to the town for stepping in and making the purchase a reality.

Carla Bevilacqua, who is a board member of the foundation, said the foundation never lost hope on purchasing the equipment, and she is also very grateful to the town.

“The true beneficiaries,” she said, “are the citizens of the town and Village of Kenmore.”

Currently, the Town of Tonawanda Paramedic Unit is the only one in the region to have this particular model of monitors, said Thomas Scime, operations manager for the unit. There may be one other unit downstate that has them, he said.

“They are a very expensive purchase,” he said, “which is why you’re probably not seeing a lot of paramedic units using them, but, again, the capabilities are basically endless.”

Despite their almost toy-like appearance, the Zoll cardiac monitors were originally designed for the military, where they were used in Afghanistan for helicopter transports.

“It’s a very sophisticated machine,” said Scime, adding, “and the best part is they weigh about 6 pounds — versus more than 20 for the old ones.”

email: nspencer@beenews.com

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