Charles Kocher, Pilot staff writer

Two new ambulances, a mass casualty incident vehicle, and a wide

array of new equipment have been deployed at Cal-Ore Life Flight.

President Dan Brattain and General Manager Joe Gregario estimate the

total capital expenditures on vehicles and new equipment in the past

year at $475,000.

The Cal-Ore crew members andndash; a total of 75 in both ground and air

operations andndash; were brought in on the decisions about equipment, Gregario

said.

"They're pretty impressed," he said. "This is all state-of-the-art equipment that makes their job a lot easier."

It's the two brand-new ambulances that will attract the most public attention. Once is a 2010 GMC, while the other is a higher profile 2010 Freightliner Sprinter.

"Without the equipment, this ambulance is about $80,000," Gregario said as he showed off the headroom to stand up in the Sprinter. "By the time you outfit it, there's another $100,000 worth of medical equipment."

The two new ambulances are among eight operated by Cal-Ore. One current ambulance has been donated to Curry County Search and Rescue.

The third vehicle new to the company fleet is a rescue and command vehicle, equipped to treat up to 300 people in a severe emergency. Brattain said it was acquired from Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue near Portland.

The other large purchase is an automated system for providing chest compressions on a patient who needs CPR andndash; cardio pulmonary resuscitation. The $15,000 unit involves a strap around the chest of a patient that automatically squeezes the chest 30 times a minute.

"It's much more effective and consistent than a person," explained Gregario, especially on a 30-minute ambulance ride.

Working with both Brookings and Harbor fire departments, Cal-Ore decided to stage the unit at the Harbor Rural Fire Department because most of the calls needing CPR come from Harbor.

In addition to the three vehicles, Cal-Ore has added and upgraded some of the high-tech medical equipment that goes on board each of the ambulances, including:

andbull;Special pediatric treatment bags, which consolidate equipment and guide treatment for children of all ages. Gregario said the bags alone were $1,000 each.

andbull;Special monitors to check the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in a patient, crucial for anyone with breathing difficulty.

andbull;New, instant digital thermometers.

andbull;Easy-to-use introasseous infusion systems (EZ-IO) for getting fluids into a patient when ordinary intravenous lines cannot be inserted.

andbull;Toughbook laptop computers with special programs for taking all the charting and billing records of an ambulance call paperless.

andbull;Zoll cardiac monitors with auto-external defibrillators that can transmit 12-lead cardiac monitoring directly to hospitals and heart specialists, and generate a permanent record for the patient's chart.

"They can diagnose a heart attack and we can start treatment right at the scene," said Gregario.

"It's a huge time saving," explains Brattain. If a patient needs to go to heart specialists immediately, the early diagnosis can cut 90 minutes out of the normal process to transport and stabilize a them.

Reports of cardiac trouble amount to 55 percent of the call volume for Cal-Ore, a total of about 3,000 ground ambulance calls a year.

In addition to the ground ambulance service in Brookings and Gold Beach, Cal-Ore has a fleet of six, fixed-wing aircraft serving both Curry and Del Norte counties, and a helicopter for transporting crew members and equipment.

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