Chief's Blog

Friday, March 8, 2013

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Receives Federal Grant to Update Critical Equipment


New equipment may be one of the most vital life-saving pieces on County ambulances



The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service was awarded a $1,192,800 Federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant to replace dated cardiac defibrillators with the most advanced generation of cardiac monitor/defibrillator equipment on the market. The County will provide a matching amount of $298,200 towards the purchase of the equipment.

Cardiac monitors/defibrillators are indispensable and vital to first responders. The equipment is utilized in conjunction with State and County protocols to deliver advanced cardiac support and to obtain electrocardiograph assessments in order to determine the most appropriate course of treatment. The equipment may be used as an initial diagnostic tool or as a source of continuous information to evaluate a patient’s response to treatment. It will allow first responders to quickly diagnose a patient in the field, provide quick access to clinical information and faster treatment while simultaneously transmitting critical patient information directly to the hospital’s emergency department prior to and during patient transport. The equipment (known as Lifepak 15s) also has additional life-saving technology that features integrated carbon monoxide (CO) monitoring that measures vital blood gases and CO levels in the blood resulting in quicker diagnosis and patient stabilization. 

Early defibrillation is a critical component in treating cardiac patients and the Cardiac Monitors/Defibrillators are essential in cardiac arrest emergencies and other potentially lethal cardiac rhythms which require an electrical intervention. With an EMS call volume of over 80,000 incidents each year, protecting and saving lives is Montgomery County Fire and Rescue’s core mission and the ability to upgrade our inventory of cardiac monitor defibrillators through the grant award will be instrumental in continuing to offer the best and most advanced emergency medical care to the residents of Montgomery County and its visitors.

The equipment (known as Lifepak 15s) has capabilities that are superior to the current model and will allow first responders to detect and treat cardiac events, monitor heart rhythms, blood pressure and oxygen saturation, diagnose heart attacks, shock hearts back into normal rhythms, provides external pacing and defibrillation for difficult-to-defibrillate patients. The units also have additional life-saving technology integrated that features a carbon monoxide (CO) monitoring feature that measures vital blood gases and CO levels in the blood which facilitates a quicker diagnosis and patient stabilization.   

“I know how important this funding is to Maryland communities – often it’s the difference between life and death.  First responders protect our homes and communities, and the federal government has a responsibility to protect them by providing them with the tools they need to do their jobs safer and smarter,” said Senator Barbara Mikulski. “Every day when our first responders report for duty, they don’t know what they will face. That’s why I fight every year for the equipment, training and staffing our protectors and communities deserve.”

“When a natural disaster occurs or we are faced with a terrorist attack, it is our first responders who provide the first line of defense for our citizens,” said Senator Ben Cardin. “This federal funding is an important investment in keeping Maryland families and businesses safe if, and when, a disaster strikes. It ensures that our first responders have the resources they need to protect us and the equipment and training they need to do their jobs.”  

“I am pleased that this grant will enable us to do more to support the critical missions of our firefighters in Montgomery County by providing them with funding for 40 new cardiac monitors/defibrillators,” said Congressman Chris Van Hollen. “This new equipment will help ensure that our community’s emergency responders have the full array of tools that they need to do their jobs and keep our fellow citizens safe.” 

The units cost over $37,000 each and, with daily opportunities to put the new equipment with its expanded capabilities and technology to work, the average cost per use is less than $8.00 over the course of the equipment’s life span. By upgrading the department’s cardiac monitors, first responders will have a very dynamic and advanced tool to provide the assessment and treatment of the most critically ill and injured patients which, ultimately, will translate into lives saved.

I want to thank Senators Mikulski and Cardin and Congressman Van Hollen for their efforts to provide this grant to Montgomery County for more advanced cardiac defibrillators,” said County Executive Isiah Leggett. “This new equipment will help our first responders save even more lives, and for that we are grateful.” 

“Over half of the department’s cardiac defibrillators have been in use since 2002 and exceed the recommended replacement schedule. These new monitors are state-of-the-art and will allow us to provide the highest level of service and to achieve our most important job - - saving lives,” said Fire Chief Richard Bowers. “Every day, our first responders put their lives on the line to protect our residents and it’s crucial that they are equipped to handle any emergency. This is a great investment to better serve the residents of Montgomery County and those in the region.”

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