TONASKET – The Tonasket EMS District has added a third ambulance to their fleet in an effort to fulfill a promise it made to voters when they approved the EMS levy.
The new ambulance, a Ford-cabbed 2005 Medtec model, joins with the 2007 Ford Medtec ambulance and a third, older ambulance used as back up for the district. The new ambulance cost $41,000, according to Jeff Cravy with Tonasket EMS, who adds it replaces a 1995 Chevy that has so many mechanical problems it could not be relied upon.
“We were concerned for our patients if we need to use it as a second ambulance if the other was out,” Cravy said.
Tonasket EMS was first formed about seven years ago when the contract with Lifeline Ambulance were discontinued. The EMS’s boundaries encompass the same 1600 square miles as the Tonasket School District.
“As part of the EMS levy that voters passed there were several promises made to the voters about creating and sustaining Tonasket EMS. We are very excited to announce that we have now accomplish all of the goals set out during the levy,” said Cravy.
The three goals were: high quality, dependable ambulances, a permanent home to house them and enough Emergency Medial Technicians to cover all shifts, according to Cravy.
“With the purchase of this new ambulance, we now have two very dependable ambulances, with one older but reliable backup. The previous two ambulances, which were hand-me-downs from other ambulance services have now been retired,” said Cravy.
The second goal of a permanent home will be finalized in the next few months with the purchase of the old firehall in Tonasket. While the building has some issues, says Cravy, the district’s goal is to have a place to store equipment and keep the ambulances out of the weather to protect the equipment and medical supplies inside.
“In addition, by having them inside a heated garage we have quick and easy access to the ambulances in bad weather. No more shoveling snow or scraping windows before leaving on a call,” Cravy said. “The last goal has been to have enough crew members to fully operate the ambulance. The state requires that we have one EMT in the back of the ambulance and one driver.”
Tonasket EMS schedules three EMTs on the ambulance, with two in the back and one as a driver.
“We are above and beyond the requirements of the state to give our patients the best care possible. On rare occasions we have two EMTs on a shift, more than the state requires, and utilize a driver to get us to and from calls so we can provide high quality care to our patients with two EMTs,” he said.
Cravy added that the EMS would like to thank the patrons of the district for putting their faith in their ability to create and maintain a high quality service. “We would also like to thank you for your patience and understanding when we respond to calls, moving to the right when you see lights and/or sirens and waiting for us to arrive,” said Cravy, adding “The farther you live from Tonasket, the longer it is going to take us to get to your location.”
Cravy said having a clearly marked address, easily visible from the road on residences and businesses aids the ambulance, fire service and law enforcement in responding to calls.
“We often spend extra time trying to track down addresses when we go to a call. Extra minutes spent looking for addresses are minutes taken away from treating our patients or other agencies responding to your emergency,” Cravy said, adding, “Thank you again for your support as we have grown and improved over the past seven years.”