Our Towns

Canfield Begins 24/7 Ambulance Service

CANFIELD, Ohio — Come July 1, Canfield will no longer be serviced by private ambulance companies. Instead, it will run its own fleet from Cardinal Joint Fire District stations.

This summer, the district put a brand new Type I ambulance into service, bringing its fleet to three. Each fire station gets its own ambulance – Station One at 104 Lisbon St., Station Two at 7075 Herbert Road and Station Three at 5007 Messerly Road.

The township has been running paramedics on board its firetrucks since 1999. But with Medicare reimbursements making it difficult for private ambulance providers to maintain fast response times, the fire district decided to operate its own 24/7 service, said Chief Don Hutchison.

“Whenever there was high-volume, you would be waiting up to 15 minutes to get an ambulance on the scene,” Hutchison said. “Our goal here is less than eight minutes at all times.”

The fire department brought its concerns to the fire district’s five-member board, which includes officials and residents from the township and the City of Canfield. Township Trustee Marie Izzo Cartwright has been on the board since 2006, and said while the district had discussed starting its own ambulance service, they never thought they would ever need it.

“But the situation has changed; the environment has changed,” Izzo Cartwright said. “The firefighters made us aware of the fact that we were getting slow response from our private ambulance service. They were just overtaxed with the number of calls they had.”

Having an ambulance at every fire station will ensure timely response because the ambulance is dispatched simultaneously with the firetruck, said Captain Rob Tieche, who also oversees the district’s paramedics and EMTs. That timely response is vital in stabilizing a patient prior to getting them to a hospital, Tieche said.

“Now with three strategically located fire stations, we can be anywhere within five minutes,” he said. “And that becomes very crucial when you start talking about people whose heart stops beating, or they’re not breathing.”

The two newest ambulances are Type 1, or a pick-up truck type ambulance. The vehicles are built with a special suspension system called “liquid suspension,” which replaces the usual springs with a hydraulic system. The suspension keeps the ambulance’s box level for a more cushioned ride.

Ambulances are outfitted with “the best of the best” in terms of equipment, Tieche said. Cardiac monitors can perform and send electrocardiograms, or EKGs, to the hospital ahead of the ambulance’s arrival. Lucas CPR machines automatically perform “perfect CPR,” freeing up a medic while keeping the patient’s brain oxygenated during cardiac arrest, he said.

The ambulances are among the first in Ohio to monitor carbon monoxide poisoning, he added. A probe placed on a patient’s finger can detect the presence of carbon monoxide in a patient’s system within 10 to 15 seconds.

“That’s a very big deal because carbon monoxide can be very dangerous because you can’t see it, you can’t smell it,” he said.

The Stryker cot systems use lifts to load patients automatically, protecting the medic’s arms and back from injury. The cots are specially designed to ensure the patient is as comfortable and as stabilized as possible.

“Once we realize that it’s beneficial to our people, we try to get it on our ambulance,” Tieche said. “Because at the end of the day it makes our people’s job easier, and of the course the outcome hopefully is better for the patient.”

Several of the fire district’s personnel are trained paramedics or EMTs, he said. Over the last year, the district hired at least three full-time firefighter paramedics, and have also supplemented with part-time paramedics and EMTs. Some have been on the job, others are going through the training program with the most recent entering the field a week ago, he said. Training usually takes about three to five months.

Fully equipped, the new ambulance cost $260,000, Izzo Cartwright said.

“We have levies in place for equipment that our residents have been wonderful to provide us with,” she said.

Pictured above: Captain Rob Tieche (left) and Chief Don Hutchison of the Cardinal Joint Fire District invited guests to tour its ambulance fleet at Station Two on Herbert Road Wednesday.

Be sure to read more about Canfield in The Business Journal’s special Our Towns: Canfield coverage in our Mid July edition! Subscribe today!

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.