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Upstate Foundation grants will improve ambulance care for region’s sickest patients

Upstate Medical University has awarded $35,000 to three area ambulance companies to help improve the transportation of critically ill patients. The funding for the grants was provided by the Upstate Foundation.

Upstate receives roughly 8,000 transfers from surrounding hospitals a year, but many of the community ambulance services lack the specialized equipment and trained staff necessary for critical care during that transport.

“Critical care transport services are lacking in our local communities,” said Douglas Sandbrook, MA, NRP, EMS liaison for Upstate and director of EMS Education. “This grant will help local agencies build those capabilities and expand on education for paramedics to help them bring the ICU level of care to the patient, so there’s no change in the quality of care when going, for example, from Potsdam to Syracuse. They are still getting the same level ICU care; the staff can manage the ventilators and continue the medicine infusions.”

Guilfoyle Ambulance in Watertown and Menter Ambulance in Oswego both received a $12,500 Critical Care Transport Development grant. Gouverneur Rescue Squad in Gouverneur received $10,000 Critical Care Transport Enhancement.

Sandbrook said Upstate received a great response from 10 very qualified applicants. Grant money will be used by agencies to purchase specialized equipment and train personnel. Transport ventilators can cost upwards of $15,000 while IV infusion pumps cost $2,000 each.  

“We have already seen results in each community,” Sandbrook said. “The difference between the two grants is the enhancement grant is to help an existing program. It’s difficult to fund a whole program, but the idea was to assist in that process.”

Zachary Menter, president and CEO of Menter Ambulance, said the grant money is helpful to the development of their program.

“We truly appreciate Upstate Medical University taking an interest in the development of Critical Care Transport programs,” he said. “It is an honor to be one of the recipients of the Critical Care Transport Development Grant.”

Sandbrook added that since the COVID-19 pandemic it has become necessary to transport patients greater distances for tertiary care, and that these patients are also being transported beyond Central New York.

“Sicker patients are being transported longer distances,” he said.

Sandbrook said he is looking for a sustainable source of funding going forward, and that the Upstate Foundation funded the inaugural round of grants.

“The response the Foundation gave us was amazing,” he said.

Adds Toni S. Gary, assistant vice president for community relations and development for the Foundation: “We are pleased to support the initiatives to train EMS volunteers in our surrounding communities. This training will make a difference for the first responders and patients they will care for in an emergency.”

Caption: Menter Ambulance staff members who benefited from the training are, from left, Michael Kapas, NRP, FP-C, director of training and quality and the critical care transport program; Michael Moore, FP-C; Rachel Stanion, FP-C, training supervisor; James Pyke, NRP, FP-C, CIC; and David Sandbrook, FP-C, critical care program educator.(Not pictured) Cory Richer, CCP-C.