Brownwood and Brown County's emergency ambulance service, Guardian EMS, strives to live up to their motto of 'Responding at the speed of LIFE.' The latest addition to their fleet furthers that endeavor, utilizing an innovative approach to emergency response.
Jimmy Trowbridge, Guardian's local business development manager and a paramedic, now operates a vehicle equipped to respond to any emergency or call for ambulance services, more rapidly than the traditional EMS vehicle.
The fully marked and lighted Dodge Durango contains the same equipment as an ambulance, providing everything a paramedic or EMT would need to treat and stabilize trauma victims and health related issues, lacking only the ability to transport patients.
"It is an additional resource that allows for better emergency response in a number of scenarios," Trowbridge said. "We will try to have a paramedic operating it all times."
The advantage to having a paramedic on scene first is they are legally able to provide levels of care and treatment, beyond that of an EMT.
One of the ways this adds to the capabilities of the ambulance service is it allows for more personnel to be on a scene, without tying up a second ambulance, where additional transport is not needed. Additionally, this vehicle can respond to areas of a potential need for EMS, such as last spring's tornado in the Blanket area. Again, avoiding tying up an ambulance that might be needed elsewhere, this vehicle will stage near the affected area, able to respond within mere minutes or even seconds, significantly reducing response time.
Although it happens infrequently, there are times when all on-duty ambulances are on calls, transporting patients, or otherwise not immediately available. A paramedic in the Durango will be able to respond, assess, and provide life saving emergency care as needed, and have the patient ready for transport as soon as an ambulance does arrive on scene.
"This vehicle and equipment will reduce the response time, reduce the time on scene, and reduce the transport time," Trowbridge said.
Dave Fair, administrative assistant to the Vice President of Operations, said, "EMS in Brown County has advanced light-years, over the last 10 to 15 years. The technology used today is so much more advanced."
That technology will be available on this vehicle, as well, including the cardiac monitor for twelve lead EKG.
Fair added, "You have what is known as the Golden Hour." This is the time following a serious medical event such as cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest, or traumatic injury, in which crucial procedures must be administered to increase the likelihood of survival. "This resource will reduce the loss of time in the Golden Hour."
"We have seen an increase in calls for ambulances, for whatever medical need people need, including just medical advice," Trowbridge said, "It's become more and more like the old time doctor house calls."
Because of that, ambulances are much more apt to be occupied, when a second or third call is received. Likewise, the new vehicle will be able to respond to the needs of police and fire personnel, where there is only a slight risk of EMS need, freeing ambulances to continue the usual function.
Another advantage to the addition of the Durango is that is will be fully equipped as a mobile command center, for multiple casualty / multi-agency emergency operations. In addition to being capable of handling a high volume, mobile triage station, it will allow for more flexibility in implementing a seamless operational plan.
Fair said the use of such vehicles is a fairly recent innovation in EMS response, being tested in several areas. He likened it to the use of motorcycles by Israeli emergency services, to navigate heavy traffic in response to high casualty events.
Overall, the employment of the new vehicle provides significant benefit to area residents, at a notably modest cost.