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Northampton EMS upgrades vital equipment

JACKSON — Life saving ambulance equipment to help doctors gauge the condition of an incoming patient could be on its way to Northampton County.

Last week, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution pursing a loan and grant from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development to purchase cardiac monitors for Northampton County EMS. The authorization also includes the acceptance of a Letter of Conditions once prepared by USDA.

The total cost of the project is $200,000 and the county is pursuing a loan of $90,000 and a grant in the amount of $110,000. A four to 4.5 percent interest rate is estimated for the loan.

The monitors would allow data regarding the patient’s condition to be transmitted from the ambulance to the receiving hospital.

EMS Director Charles Joyner said the equipment will do much more than just monitor the heart.

“This new monitor, LifePak 15, has more advance features than the current monitors,” he said in a later interview. “It can monitor blood pressure, oxygen saturation in the blood, and the amount of carbon dioxide being exhaled by the patient.”

Joyner said six monitors would be purchased if the grant and loan are awarded. The county currently has four ambulances (two of the trucks are backup) and each of those vehicles would be equipped with a monitor. The other two LifePak 15s would be placed in EMS first response vehicles.

The equipment could be on board the ambulances by the end of the year if the loan and grant go forward.

Joyner said the old EKG units currently being used on the ambulances would be given to the county’s volunteer rescue squads.

Paul Young with the Gaston Rescue Squad, who was in attendance at the meeting, said the monitors are needed on board.

“It’s something the county desperately needs,” he said. “I think we should go forward with this.”

Commissioner Virginia Spruill moved to approve the resolution; it was seconded by Commissioner Chester Deloatch. The motion passed without objection.