Boothbay Region Ambulance Service is holding its annual fundraiser with a goal of $100,000. The funds will go to relieving outstanding debt on BRAS’s recent acquisition of an emergency vehicle and a new stretcher for its fleet, said Director Scott Lash.
The new ambulance was delivered in October and up until about two weeks ago it was undergoing equipment installations and preparations, said Lash. Now it has joined the fleet.
The truck cost about $150,000, said Lash. Half came from the service's capital program and the other half from a loan. The fundraising will help relieve that debt and help buy the new electric stretcher for around $20,000.
“It's a unique design,” said Lash. “It features better workflow patient care-wise and crew safety as well as patient safety … It's kind of cool, it's exciting.”
The truck is called a Mini Mod and is much like the other trucks except a little smaller, said Lash.
“They're a little less expensive to buy and a little cheaper to maintain day to day. You do give up a little space, but we still have all the equipment we need.”
Touring the inside of the new ambulance, Lash noted the harnessing system is an upgrade from the lap belts of older emergency trucks. More akin to race-car seatbelts, the harnesses allow a crew to pull forward and tend to patients with far less risk while the truck is in motion. If a collision occurs, the harnesses retract.
The side door in the new vehicle slides open which is different from the rest of the fleet’s swing open doors. The swing open doors often limit crew members’ or passengers’ sight of potential oncoming traffic when entering or exiting the trucks, said Lash. The interior features more rounded corners and seamless surfaces which make cleaning much quicker and more effective. It also still has the new car smell.
“It's a cool truck. We put a lot of work into designing it and I'm not sure how many have this configuration in Maine, but we're one of the first … This system is the next generation.”
To update the design scheme, the new truck features the towns BRAS serves: Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor and Southport. Even with all the cool bells and whistles and safety upgrades, this is perhaps the detail Lash and all the BRAS crew are most proud of.
“It's a little detail, but one that's important to us.”
However, with new additions to any fleet comes the retirement of an older unit. While older ambulances are usually put up for their trade-in value, the oldest ambulance in the fleet was found to have no value.
“So, what we've done is gutted the back of the truck and we are assembling it inside.” BRAS is repurposing the innards to create a training room with everything found in a functional unit. While work is not yet complete, a look inside shows progress which will help the region's future EMT's, AEMT's and other crew members, said Lash. To his knowledge, there are no other in-house training centers in Maine like BRAS aside from a handful of community college training programs.
“We won't put oxygen in, but we're going to put some sort of low pressure air so some of the equipment that runs off from air like our CPAP machines will be able to simulate and actually work. We're kind of proud of it and it will be great when it's done.”
BRAS owes its success to its donors large and small for all its capabilities and services, Lash said. He said fundraising chair Brenda Blackman is one of the organization’s most important players, whose enthusiasm and ongoing support for the community has helped tremendously.
Said Lash, “There are a lot of players in this and we're happy for that because it's community support, it's community involvement and it's important.”