Cassia Regional Hospital upgrades ambulance service

EMT Rhonda Bench, left, and Paramedic Jason Parkinson go through a medical jump kit in the ambulance on Friday.

LAURIE WELCH, TIMES-NEWS

BURLEY — Cassia Regional Hospital’s ambulance crew is saying goodbye to Life Run ambulance service as it transitions to what it calls a more advanced level of care.

Life Run has been in operation since 1978. Thousands of emergency medical technicians were thanked for their service during a last call ceremony on June 1, said hospital spokeswoman Stephanie Curtis.

The transition to the new service, Intermountain Cassia Regional Hospital Paramedics, will be complete within a couple of weeks, said Maria Hoggan, emergency department manager.

The service is moving from an intermediate life support service to advance life support service.

“This is going to provide better service for the community,” Hoggan said.

Paramedic Jason Parkinson said that means paramedics will offer a more advanced level of medical care for patients in the field.

“We can save time and save lives,” he said.

The paramedic service will be able to administer pain medications and drugs used during a heart attack, for example, and provide other procedures the ambulance was not previously allowed to perform.

The service will be able to provide a level of care close to the emergency room, except for the ability to do x-rays and blood work, Parkinson said.

The ambulance service has six paramedics on staff and a total staff of 16, which includes basic emergency medical technicians and advanced EMTs.

“Everyone has a role when they are working on the team,” Hoggan said.

One paramedic will be on duty during each shift along with an EMT.

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Rhonda Bench said Kent Holyoak, the ambulance service’s chief paramedic, led the charge for the change.

“It was a goal of his for a long time,” Bench said.

The hospital has been training staff, combing through legal issues and changing hospital policies and procedures in the lead up to the new ambulance service.

The changes include clothing worn by staff, new schedules and moderating the temperature and adding security in the ambulance for the drugs that are now stored there.

The hospital has hired temporary paramedics from other services to serve as field training officers and observe the staff paramedics during the remainder of the transition.

Parkinson said the quick response units, which help provide care in the county’s rural areas, are also being given a wider-scope practice, which allows the ambulance crew to spend more time on advanced care.

“We are really trying to raise the bar,” Hoggan said.

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