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The Marion County Ambulance District continues to be hampered by supply shortages, and, in some cases, alternative treatments are being explored.
Chief John Nemes noted the supply shortages during the MCAD board meeting last week, at which the board heard updates on ambulance inspection, employee insurance, iPhones and the remount schedule.
Pain medication has been an issue getting, Nemes said, but the district is using an alternative on that.
“We’re going to add IV Tylenol for pain control since opiate-based pain meds are in short supply,” he said. “Ironically, we couldn’t get Fentanyl for a while and it’s the biggest epidemic in the U.S.
“Normal saline for IV fluids was also in short supply and we had to use it sparingly for quite a while, but now we’re starting to get most of what we ordered.”
Basically, almost every piece of equipment the district uses or parts for them are hard to get, Nemes said.
“The new stretchers we ordered in July might be here by February if we’re lucky,” he added. “We have a great supply set up, so we’ve been able to wait out most of the shortages, thank goodness.”
Nemes added several AEDs, including the one for Jackson Park Golf Course, are still back-ordered after seven months with no known estimated time of arrival. That shortage has basically brought the district’s AED program to a halt.
Nemes updated the board on the ambulance inspection process, noting he and Chief Medical Officer John Clemens attended the ground ambulance inspection by the Bureau of EMS on Aug. 24.
The inspection was done virtually with a walk-through of the facilities and ambulances, along with equipment verification and inspection, and Nemes said the district had no issues and both Marion and Ralls county ambulance had their ground ambulance licensure renewed until 2027.
Under new business, Nemes said he, Finance & Benefits Director Claudette Moss, and Assistant Finance Director Kari Garrett met with Carla Meyers from First State Insurance Agency to look at some other insurance options.
In addition to updates from the existing United Health Care plan, Nemes said a newer plan from Exemplar was discussed in the meeting and it appeared to be a much better fit for the district, providing employees with more affordable options.
“This plan will not tie them to 50 FTE’s (Full Time Equivalent) so the district could expand its roster if needed,” he added, noting crews will be meeting with insurance representatives on Oct. 18.
To help with communication between the crews and the hospital, new Apple iPhones are being set up to use in the ambulances, Nemes reported.
“We are currently working with Apple on creating and installing their business development software before releasing the phones, which allows the District to enact changes on all of the devices at once,” he said.
To also help with communication, the district is looking to update the wifi routers on every ambulance as the current ones were dated in comparison to current technology. Nemes said he would check further into this before making a recommendation to the board.
Nemes told the board the first remounted ambulance was finished, stocked with supplies, and ready for service as soon as they receive a mattress for the Stryker cot.
Nemes met with Braun production coordinators in Van Wert, Ohio when picking up the first truck to see what the timeline would be for remounting the other units.
Although chassis are still being released a few at a time and were being rationed between all pending orders to keep the production line moving, the trucks would get done much sooner if the district could bring more than one at a time.
After discussing it with crews, the district decided to send the last three trucks to be remounted at one time, and that all should be finished by late January, although the district might have to utilize a Ralls County truck in the event of a breakdown or maintenance issue.
Nemes also reported he finished the grant for a PowerLoad system, and he should know within a few weeks if the district will receive any funding.
Two senior employees recently attended the EMS Expo in Orlando, Fla., and courses taken include the Teleflex Cadaver Lab, Master Cardiology, Pre-Hospital Traumatic Brain Injury care and more.
In his report, Nemes reported that MCAD answered 544 calls for emergency service in August. Base 1 (Hannibal) – 2711 handled 153 calls, 2721 handled 125 calls, Base 2 (Hannibal) handled 170 calls, Base 3 (Palmyra) handled 80 calls, and there were 16 off-duty transfers plus multiple stand-by events, including the Marion County Fair, Pops Club Music Showcase, Philly Fun Fest, Ethan’s Rodeo and more.
The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 17.