LEWISBORO, N.Y. -- The Lewisboro Volunteer Ambulance Corps was just approved to administer EKGs, acquire the reading, and transmit it to the hospital from the patient’s side.
"We are the first Basic Life Support volunteer ambulance corps in New York State to be permitted to do so. That makes LVAC the most advanced BLS corps in the state, said Chief Lucian Lipinsky.
When a patient has a suspected heart attack (EMTs are not permitted to diagnose, only treat symptoms) fast appropriate treatment is essential to minimizing long-term damage to the heart muscle, he explained.
"This is why any suspected heart attack victim must call 911 quickly."
Seconds literally can count, Lipinsky said.
One of the types of heart attack (or myocardial infarction, called "MI") shows up as a special EKG wave called an ST Elevated MI, or STEMI. This is a type of heart attack where one of the heart's arteries is significantly or completely closed. Someone with a STEMI needs to quickly get to a hospital with cardiac cauterization capabilities (cath lab).
"The closest one is Westchester County Medical Center. Yet, if the MI is NOT a STEMI then the patient should get to the closest hospital ASAP. For LVAC, that’s typically Northern Westchester Hospital," he explained.
The only way to differentiate between the two types of heart attacks is by administering an EKG. Up to now, this has only been a level of care performed by a paramedic (medic).
As the volume of 911 calls climb, year after year, the times when one of the four medics is not available due to being on another emergency also increases.
The result? No EKG and the risk of delaying appropriate cardiac care, Lipinsky noted.
LVAC is addressing that by adding the ability to collect EKG data and sending it to its "medical control" at Northern Wetchester Hospital.
The EMTs have received additional training for the lifesaving skills, said Lipinsky.
Corps members also, for its history, receive two mandatory training sessions per month.
The new capabilities follows the recent fly-car added to Lewisboro Volunteer Ambulance Corps' fleet, improving its capabilities and response time in emergencies, according to Lipinsky.
It was donated by Adam R. Rose and Peter R. McQuillan, longtime Lewisboro residents, philanthropists, and owners of AP Farm in Cross River.
"In a town like Lewisboro with an area of 29 square miles, having multiple vehicles available throughout town reduces response time," LVAC Captain Lucian Lipinsky said.
The ambulance corps has three locations with official corps vehicles. From those locations no address is more than about four-and-a-half minutes away, he explained.
In addition, crew chiefs and emergency medical technicians often respond directly to the scene to further improve the speed by which patient care is delivered.
"With the red lights and sirens on these vehicles we are able to better and more safely travel to the call site. While all our members utilize green courtesy lights when responding to emergencies, many drivers don’t understand the meaning of the green lights and don’t move over to let them pass. With red lights and sirens drivers are required to yield and lifesaving minutes can often be saved getting to the sick and injured."
In the most recent month for which the corps has statistics, August 2016, it handled 55 emergency calls, according to Lipinksy.
While many agencies use "captain's cars," LVAC uses them as crew response vehicles. The on-duty crew chief has the option to sign-out the vehicle for use during his/her shift.
The practice helps to reduce response time while bringing medical equipment more quickly to the patient, Lipinsky said.
The ambulance corps needs new members, Lipinsky noted.
"We need riding member who respond to those in need and non-riding members who see to the needs of the business of LVAC. We provide all the medical training and equipment."
A "riding member," he explained, helps to maintain the facilities and the vehicles, stock inventory, train people, correspond with donors, and interact with vendors.
"Volunteering for LVAC fits into every lifestyle, career, and family – as a matter of fact, we have many members from the same family," said Lipinsky.
To see the fly-car donation story on Daily Voice, click here.
For more information about joining the Lewisboro Volunteer Ambulance Corps, click here or call (914) 763-9633.