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Letcher Fire & Rescue Ambulance Service receives major upgrade

From Basic Life Support to Advance Life Support makes all the difference in saving a life
Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 2:50 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 4, 2020 at 11:19 PM EDT
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LETCHER COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Tuesday morning the Letcher Fire and Rescue Ambulance Service celebrates a milestone with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. They upgraded their services from basic life support to advanced life support. The difference between what could mean life and death to a patient.

“It’s something for this community that we have not been able to offer and we’re excited that we can offer it to our residents now,” said Shawn Gilley, Executive Director of Letcher Fire & Rescue Ambulance Service.

Now they are able to provide the next level of emergency care for their patients. Offering IVs and medications they were not once able to provide, but now with paramedics on board, they can.

“We’ve had more requests for a certificate of needs for ambulance services in Eastern Kentucky then I’ve ever seen since I’ve been elected,” said Johnny Ray Turner, Kentucky State Senate Representative for the 29th District. Showing that this was needed now more than ever.

“Now as an ALS service we carry medications, I can go ahead and get into their system helping them before we get to the hospital,” said Chris Gilley, Director of Paramedicine for Letcher Fire & Rescue Ambulance Service.

While rural areas often have a longer response rate than urban areas, “This offers a level of care that we’re better equipped to take care of that patient for that extended transport time,” said Shawn Gilley, Executive Director of Letcher Fire & Rescue Ambulance Service.

“Some medicines that ALS can push that BLS can’t, and a lot of time is the difference between life and death.”

“There’s no doubt in my mind that this will result in people’s lives being saved,” said Angie Hatton, State Representative for the 94th District. “29 percent of the unemployment in this country is from the healthcare industry during COVID-19. I thought I would’ve been restaurants and hotels and entertainment industry but the healthcare industry has taken a huge hit,” she said.

Making this milestone even greater, the ability to higher six paramedics during a pandemic.

“Not just EMS/EMT workers but all healthcare industry needs our help,” she said.

Also equipping ambulances not only with paramedics but state of the art equipment.

“We have a device called an ‘Auto Pulse’ that does automatic CPR,” said Chris Gilley. “For a patient who is having chest pain they can go ahead and initiate a EKG and transmit them to the hospital.”

Making the transition from ambulance care to hospital care not only smoother but efficiently helping those in need to receive some sort of relief right away. Establishing IVs and administering medicines that can reduce pain and increase the amount of blood flow to the heart.

Showing an increase in the survivability rate for patients in their care.

“As a BLS service we can give them oxygen and transport now as an ALS service we carry medications I can go ahead and get into their system helping them before we get to the hospital,” said Chris.

And while the pandemic has not gone anywhere, they are also better equipped to handle COVID-19 patients. Increasing not only dependability in the county but the survivability rate of the community they love to serve.

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