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Washington County/JCEMS unveils crash truck

March 5th, 2007 11:21 am by KRISTEN SWING

In the ever-changing world of emergency medical services, having the most up-to-date equipment can mean the difference between life and death.

With that in mind, officials with the Washington County/ Johnson City Emergency Medical Services recently unveiled its newest crash truck - a $145,000 investment that should help EMS workers do their jobs better.

"The biggest thing with this truck was to make it user friendly. The more user friendly it is, the easier it is and the more efficient they can be at their job," EMS Lt. Dan Wheeley said. "The trucks we have currently have a lot of wasted space and are very top heavy. Especially in the county, they are very hard to handle."

The new version of the county's crash truck is smaller than the current one but holds as much, if not more, equipment. It carries extrication tools, basic swift water and rope rescue gear and medical gear among other things.

"And everything has its place," Wheeley said. "You never have to go searching for something."

With roll-up doors and a more compact size, the crash truck also allows for easier access into tight places.

And a built-in generator should make a big difference in how EMS workers utilize their "jaws of life" equipment.

Where they previously had to pull out a heavy generator and take it sometimes hundreds of feet to the scene, along with the extrication equipment, they now can start up a built-in generator from inside the cab.

With the new truck, as long as they can get close enough to the scene, workers will only need to carry the actual tools to the crash site.

"Probably on average, you're saving five minutes just on your prep time," Wheeley said. "For some calls that five minutes might not matter, but for others it can make all the difference."

The crash truck also sports a fresh, new design.

"We really wanted something that stood out," Wheeley said. "It's a real eye-catcher."

The second new crash truck is expected to arrive at headquarters any day now.

Officials are hoping to buy one each year until the entire fleet has been replaced with the newer version of truck.

"We've got six more to go. They just make their jobs so much easier," Wheeley said. "It'll cut down on workman's comp, too."

In addition to the trucks, a new kind of stretcher making its way into ambulances here likely will help to cut down on job-related injuries.

"It's hydraulic with a battery-powered motor on it. It's easier on the patient and it's easier on our workers," EMS Director Allen Taylor said. "We have two right now. They are in the daytime trucks, which handle a lot more calls with heavier people."

By May, the department hopes to have six of the stretchers, which cost an estimated $10,000 each.

"It's expensive up front. But in the long run, it saves you," Taylor said. "People are just getting bigger these days. We're running into it more anyway. And that makes our job harder.

"We've got to buy the products that help us to work smarter, not harder."

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