Lane LifeTrans Medic Hospitalized, Others Await Test Results

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — One paramedic from Lane LifeTrans has tested positive for COVID-19, and nine others are self-quarantined as they await the test results for patients for whom they answered ambulance calls.

None of the nine workers have symptoms of the virus, says Joe Lane, president and CEO of Lane Life Trans. The EMT who tested positive is being treated in an area hospital, but did not contract COVID-19 from an ambulance call, Lane says.

“She went home sick, then went to the doctor and she had it,” Lane says.

Two other Lane paramedics were recently quarantined for possible exposure, but tests turned out negative, Lane says.

Five of the quarantined employees have been waiting for a week as of today for the test results of the patient they worked on. They include Lane’s son, Ryan, and two supervisors.

Lane LifeTrans is a primary 911 responder for about 125,000 people in a number of Mahoning Valley communities, including Boardman and Austintown, comprising some 125 square miles. It has trucks stationed in both of those townships, as well as also Niles, Girard, Mineral Ridge and North Jackson. The company employs between 125 and 135, and manages a fleet of at least 12 response vehicles.

Five of its paramedics were quarantined after they responded to a March 18 call at the Arconic plant in Niles. The Arconic employee was unconscious and in cardiac arrest, and later died.

The Lane crew that responded included Tom Lambert, who is Lane LifeTrans chief of operations, and the Weathersfield Township fire chief.

The results of the Arconic employee’s COVID-19 test are still not known. Lambert says he has a teleconference March 26 with doctors and expects to find out then if the employee had COVID-19.

“Our people have been off for seven days and we’re not symptomatic,” he says. “We’re hoping that tomorrow we will get a green light. We have other [Lane LifeTrans employees] off right now, too, so it’s getting tough.”

Lane says his paramedics were not in full personal protective equipment, or PPE, when they answered the Arconic call because they did not know at the time that the employee had been sick with the flu. Other Lane workers would later also go into self-quarantine after having contact with another potential COVID-19 victim. 

Lane says his company has enough PPE, but that could change if the pandemic drags on and service calls ramp up.

“We’re doing everything we can to have PPE,” he says. “Dispatchers are critical to determining the type of call they are going on. They have to find out if we need more than just gloves and a mask. There are different levels [of protective gear]. They could also need eye protection and a gown, or the next level, with a face shield and a full body suit.”

His quarantined employees are eager to get back to work, he says.

“The people who work for me really care about what they do, they are proud of what they do and they want to do the best they can for the communities we serve,” Lane says. “They are proud to have the opportunity to serve them. The ones who are in quarantine feel that obligation and they want to get back out into the fight, to keep that promise.”

Lane says he has already retrofitted one ambulance as a specific COVID-19 transport and is working on a second one.

Pictured: Jeff Tucker, Lane LifeTrans, prepares a transport vehicle for COVID-19 patients.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.