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Colfax Rescue Squad awarded $22,500 Otto Bremer Foundation grant

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX  —  The Colfax Rescue Squad has received notification of being awarded a $22,500 grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation for nitrous oxide administration equipment and powered stair chairs.

Don Knutson, director of the Colfax Rescue Squad, reported on the grant at the rescue squad’s annual meeting August 20.

Nitrous oxide is being added to the Colfax Rescue Squad’s “scope of practice” for pain control, Knutson said.

The use of nitrous oxide has been in the national scope of practice for advanced emergency medical technicians, but Wisconsin has been slow to adopt it, he said.

Out of the total Otto Bremer Foundation grant, $12,000 will go toward the nitrous oxide administration equipment.

The nitrous oxide will give the Colfax Rescue Squad an immediate pain control option. It will also be financially advantageous for patients because CRS will not need to call as often for an intercept for pain control with an another ambulance service with paramedic services, Knutson said.

As soon as a paramedic from another service steps into the Colfax ambulance, it costs more money, he noted.

Stair chairs

The remainder of the Otto Bremer Foundation grant will go toward purchasing two powered stair chairs, one for each ambulance.

The powered stair chairs will help to minimize back injuries for EMTs when they are moving patients up from basements or down from upper floors, Knutson said.

The Colfax Rescue Squad currently has manual stair chairs, and while it is possible to bring patients down the steps with a manually-operated chair, it is much more difficult to get them up steps, he said.

The rescue squad has already purchased two portable lift assist devices for lifting heavy patients as well, Knutson said.

The workers’ compensation insurance rates for the rescue squad have decreased from $26,000 in 2013 to $15,000 in the proposed 2016 budget.

The decrease in workers’ comp is due, in part, to decreasing the risk of injury to EMTs with powered lifting devices, Knutson said.

It is not uncommon to hear calls over the scanner for any of the ambulance services or fire departments in Dunn County to be called out on a “lift assist” for a patient who is down for one reason or another and cannot get up. At times, if the ambulance service does not have powered lifting devices, additional EMTs are called in to help lift a heavy patient.

Radios

The Colfax Rescue Squad also will be receiving three portable radios and a mobile radio through a grant application made to the state by Dunn County Emergency Management.

The cost for the radios is a 25 percent/75 percent split, with Colfax paying 25 percent of the cost, Knutson said.

Colfax will pay $1,700 toward the portable and mobile radio units, he said.

The Colfax Rescue Squad currently is working on grants for blood level carbon monoxide monitoring equipment and upgrades, intraosseous fluid administration equipment and exhaust fume control equipment.

The exhaust removal equipment would cost about $26,000.

Knutson said he has submitted a grant application for the exhaust removal equipment and is waiting to hear whether the grant will be awarded to Colfax.