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New lifesaving equipment available to Columbia County paramedics        

Columbia County first responders are better equipped to save lives.        

“What we’ve done since the COVID era, probably 2020, is taken the initiative to start putting more equipment on the apparatus to start providing more care,” said Lt. Jamarius Tate, EMS Training Coordinator with Columbia County Fire Rescue, on March 10.

The newest piece of lifesaving equipment is the UE Video Laryngoscope, which is a game changer when treating people with a blocked airway.

Tate said paramedics don’t receive a lot of training to intubate patients. They are only required to do the procedure five times to be certified. The video laryngoscope allows the paramedic to better see into a patient’s mouth and throat. Previously, the paramedic had to get into a precarious position close to the patient’s face while attempting to insert the tube.

Brendan Crossman (left) and Thomas Davis check out the new equipment as Jason Shire looks on. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

“This makes us stand out. No other agency has this right now,” said Tate. “We really set ourselves up for success.”

The equipment arrived the first week of March, and it has already been used in the field, allowing a “brand new” paramedic to complete the procedure within seconds, he said.

 “It was a difficult airway attempt, and he got it the first time,” Tate said.

 The county purchased five of the scopes for $1,500 each, according to a news release.

The new equipment is important because fire and rescue teams often show up on the scene before an ambulance arrives. Columbia County employs EMTs as well as 20 paramedics. Paramedics have more training than EMTs and can provide more patient care in the field.

“Paramedics basically do — under the direction of a medical director — everything a doctor could do in the street such things as intubation — taking a tube and placing into airway — IVs, severe allergic reaction medication,” he said.

Until the recent upgrades, the Columbia County Fire Rescue’s equipment was only at what Tate calls the EMT level. Now the paramedics have all the current tools they need.

Other new equipment includes a “cardio monitor, and EKG like in the hospital. We can do in the street and send it right to the hospital. We have the LUCAS for CPR.  These guys look strong and fit, and they are, but sometimes they get tired doing compressions. We’ve got a device to do it for us,” he said.

Also, the fire rescue units are equipped with the same medications that are on an ambulance.

Tate knows these won’t be the last upgrades the department sees.

“We are always looking to progress forward. We don’t know the next new thing will be but always trying to reassess,” he said. “I’m sure Columbia County will provide what’s needed.”

Charmain Z. Brackett is the publisher of Augusta Good News. Reach her at Subscribe to the newsletter here.

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