Before taking part in the parade of first responders around Franciscan Health Crown Point on Monday night, a newly-acquired ambulance made its first official run, transporting a COVID-19 patient from Franciscan Health Olympia Fields.
The 2005 ambulance with 79,000 miles was one of three purchased by Franciscan Alliance, part of an effort to relieve sister hospitals that are experiencing a surge of patients with coronavirus.
Rob Dowling, director of Emergency Medical Services at Franciscan Health Crown Point, said that hospital officials had been talking about acquiring an ambulance to facilitate transports of these patients, but “it didn’t seem like it would be something that could happen as quickly as we wanted.”
However, Dowling credited Sister Aline Shultz, Franciscan’s vice president of Administrative Services in Western Indiana, with leading the drive to purchase the ambulances. Kevin DeBraal, vice president of Administrative Services in Crown Point, assisted with the acquisition, and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s office provided waivers to streamline the process. Then, several local agencies stepped in to donate equipment and time to help Franciscan obtain state certification for the ambulance. Those agencies include Tri Creek EMS, St. John Fire, Schererville Fire, Newton County EMS and Keener Township EMS.
Once certified, staff did a dry run last week to test out the capability of the ambulance and the staff’s ability to use the equipment in transit, Dowling said. The ambulance has a three-person staff: a respiratory therapist and nurse taking care of the patient and a paramedic driving.
For now, the ambulance will do transports from Olympia Fields to Franciscan Health hospitals in Crown Point and Michigan City. After the pandemic, the ambulance will be used for training and to transport cardiovascular patients and NICU patients from sister hospitals, Dowling said.