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New paramedic unit hits the road in Fayetteville

March 23, 2000

New ALS UnitBy DON AINES / Staff Writer, Chambersburg

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




FAYETTEVILLE, Pa. - In the first six days of the Fayetteville Volunteer Fire Co.'s new Advanced Life Support service, Paramedic Greg Myers had been called out on five of its dozen runs, including two Tuesday morning.

The service had been in operation seven hours when that first call came on March 15, said Myers, 26. It was for a person having chest pains.

Tuesday he had gone out on another call for chest pains and then a report of an unresponsive woman at the Piney Mountain Nursing Home, just across the Adams County, Pa., line.

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"That last call was a prime example" of why the ALS service was needed in the eastern part of Franklin County, according to Myers, who once worked for Chambersburg Area Advanced Life Support Services. The trip to the nursing home was much quicker from the new ALS office at Fayetteville. "I can remember working in Chambersburg it would sometimes take 15 to 25 minutes to get there," he said.

Fire Chief Max Lenherr said a paramedic from Fayetteville could be administering intravenous drugs or performing other procedures before a unit from Chambersburg would have gotten to the scene.

"We thought there was a need for faster response time in the area. Traffic on U.S. 30 is terrible," Lenherr said Tuesday. He said the company serves parts of Greene and Guilford Townships in Franklin County and Franklin Township in Adams County.

The fire company began work toward establishing the ALS unit almost a year ago, spending $40,000 for a 1997 Jeep and the medications, manual defibrillator and other equipment to stock the vehicle, Lenherr said.

The service will be funded primarily through fees and fund-raising.

Fayetteville has four full-time and three part-time paid paramedics. "There's one on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said.

Two more are preparing to begin paramedic training this fall. The fire company will pay for the training if they successfully complete the course, he said.

"It's the wave of the future. Eventually you'll see paramedics going out on every ambulance call," Lenherr said. Fayetteville also has three Basic Life Support ambulances.

The emergency medical services budget is $350,000, with $125,000 allocated for paramedic salaries, according to Lenherr.

"About 600 of our EMS calls were ALS calls" in 1999, Lenherr said. That's almost half the 1,300 medical calls the service had last year, he said.

Myers, who has been running ambulance calls since he graduated high school, said an ALS paramedic are certified to do more invasive procedures than the emergency medical technicians in other ambulances. The added skills include administering medications, operating the defibrillator, needle decompression for a collapsed lung and emergency tracheotomies, among others.

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