MILTON — On the strength of a $10,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Office of the State Fire Commissioner, the Milton Fire Department now has automated external defibrillators (AEDs) stocked on eight of its vehicles.
“Up until a year-and-a-half ago, the only AEDs we had were in our two ambulances,” Scott Derr, the Milton Fire Department’s assistant chief, said.
The department has two ambulances. One is a mobile intensive care unit (MICU) staffed 24 hours per day through a contract the department has with Evangelical Community Hospital. The other is operated by department volunteers and responds on an as-needed basis when the MICU is not immediately available.
About 18 months ago, the department purchased two additional AEDs. One was placed on its rescue truck, with the other being placed on its quick response unit (QRS) truck.
Derr explained that the department had its utility truck upgraded with certain pieces of medical equipment so it could be certified as a QRS truck that can respond to assist on medical calls.
With the state grant money in hand, Derr said the department was able purchase four new AEDs. Two new bags, which are used to store medical supplies, were also purchased.
Derr said AEDs cost around $2,800 each.
With the new AEDs, two were placed on the ambulances, one on the QRS truck and one in the chief’s vehicle, which previously did not have an AED.
The AEDs which had been on the ambulances and QRS truck were moved to the department’s two engines and ladder truck.
Derr said it was important for the department to make sure each of its main pieces of apparatus were equipped with the potentially life-saving devices.
He said cardiac arrest is the leading cause of on-scene firefighter deaths. In addition, Derr said any of the department’s pieces of apparatus could come upon an emergency scene at any time and need to use the devices to shock someone’s heart back into beating.
“We have used the AEDs twice this year, not including the (MICU),” Derr said.
He noted that volunteers responding in the department’s QRS truck used an AED once on a medical call, while volunteers on an engine used one.
“That was prior to any medic unit or ambulance (arriving),” Derr said.
He noted that statistics show rates of survival are higher the earlier an AED is used on a cardiac arrest victim.
Derr said the department has approximately 50 active members, each of whom are certified in CPR and the use of an AED.
Among the active members, Derr said about 20 are either paramedics or emergency medical technicians (EMTs). Recently, the department accepted several new members who want to focus on volunteering as EMTs.
Derr said volunteers sign up for shifts when they are available to staff the volunteer ambulance.
“It requires two EMTs to staff a crew,” Derr explained. “We average around 15 second-due (volunteer) ambulance calls a month.”
The department can also have a volunteer ambulance crew available to staff community events.
Recently, volunteers have staffed the Milton Beer Fest, Sounds on the Susquehanna Drum and Bugle Corps Competition, and high school and Panther Cub football games.
Derr said it’s important for the department to offer that service for events taking place in Milton.
“We want to do more for the community,” he said.
Staff writer Kevin Mertz can be reached at 570-742-9671 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.