by Barb Pert Templeton

New equipment, including a paramedic ambulance and high-tech oxygen system will make servicing residents that much easier for Richmond Lenox EMS.

The department recently received the new ambulance, an Advance Life Support vehicle that cost $148,000, with an additional $25,000 in portable life support equipment. The vehicle was built by American Emergency Vehicles of Jefferson, N.C., according to Jeffery R. White, chief of E.M.S-Paramedic/IC for the Richmond and Lenox townships Ambulance Authority.

White said the new ambulance is an addition to the EMS fleet, not a replacement, bringing the total number of ambulances to six.

“This was purchased from funds within our budget and we budget to purchase a new vehicle every 12 to 18 months,” White explained.

The new unit increases the department’s response resources and will further improve response time.

White said the EMS average response time is four to five minutes within the cities and villages it serves and eight to nine minutes in surrounding townships. The service responds to about 3,800 emergency calls per year, from its three stations, which are located on Gratiot near New Haven, 32 Mile near the city of Richmond and on Memphis Ridge just south of Memphis.

Richmond Lenox EMS has 38 employees on staff plus an additional 10 employees who serve as drivers for the SMART buses that service clients from Chesterfield to Memphis.

Blackout prompts oxygen system

Another recent addition to the department is an industrial OGSI Medical Oxygen Generating System (MOGS-100 model). The system was made possible for Richmond Lenox EMS through a nearly $80,000 Mobil Medical Response System federal grant. The device will be used for day-to-day operations, such as filling oxygen bottles/tanks on paramedic ambulances.

“This unit cost us zero dollars,” White said “And this is a project that has been some time in coming for us.”

After the Northeast Blackout in 2003 White said he learned there wasn’t a system in place in the county or region to assist residents who were dependent on oxygen.

“There was no plan for someone who was at home with oxygen and didn’t have a generator and no spare bottles of oxygen,” White said.

He recalled that during the blackout his department was able to get portable generators to some homes and welcomed those who needed to recharge their generators or refill their oxygen tanks. Still, that experience showed him that a plan to address a major outage was something they needed to address so he set out to find a way.

“We needed to find a funding source and put it in place because we were going to need it for a major disaster to help those with chronic illnesses,” White said.

More importantly in the event of a large scale disaster, the system will allow the EMS to fill oxygen tanks for neighboring public safety agencies.

The MOGS-100 model was designed to produce oxygen onsite and fill high-pressure cylinders, up to 2200 psi, or to supply oxygen directly at up to 70 psi. This system uses oil-free air compressors and modular oxygen generators for redundancy and reliability. The system produces medical-grade oxygen in accordance with the U.S. Pharmacopeia specifications. There is a continuous gas quality monitoring system included with automatic shutdown if a fault occurs.

“It’s only going to be useful if we use a piece of equipment like this regularly because you need to be familiar with operating it when a disaster hits so we are going to use it to fill our oxygen tanks for our ambulances too,” White said. “The ability to fill our own oxygen tanks will save the EMS approximately $6,000 annually.”

In addition to the federal grant that made purchasing the unit possible for Richmond Lenox EMS White said similar grants placed a MOGS-100 model in Warren and also one in northern Macomb County that will service St. Clair County too.