Men by ambulance (l. to r.) Tyler Goode, Lt. Chris Morris, and Larry
Brand new “rolling ER” assigned to Dawson’s Station 6
Lanier Swafford, fire chief of Dawson County Emergency Services, invited Smoke Signals to check out the new ambulance at Station 6 on Hubbard Road, just across from Big Canoe’s North Gate.
“This is a brand-new ambulance, custom built from the frame up for Dawson County,” said Deputy Chief Ricky Rexroat, Emergency Services, representing Chief Swafford.
“It’s much more dependable. The previous Station 6 truck had traveled more than 200,000 miles. And, the new ambulance rides much smoother—that’s important for patients we transport.”
The new custom-built ambulance is considered a fully advanced life support system. It is one of two purchased with SPLOST (Special Project Local Option Sales Tax) funds.
The new ambulance combines a 2016 Dodge 4500 chassis with a wheeled coach body, which was fitted with cabinets designed for the needs of Dawson County’s Emergency Services staff.
The new station 6 ambulance contains a LUCAS—Lund University Cardiac Arrest System—a chest compression device, which automatically performs CPR on cardiac arrest patients.
According to the LUCAS website: This process helps save the lives of sudden cardiac arrest patients and helps avoid neurological damage by providing a steady supply of oxygen to the heart and brain.
Life-sustaining circulation can be created through effective and uninterrupted chest compressions. Performing manual chest compressions of high quality is both difficult and tiring, and impossible in certain situations. The quality varies depending on who provides CPR and may deteriorate quickly after only one, two minutes.
The LUCAS device was purchased through an Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG) grant. The grant provided a piece of life-saving equipment worth more than $14,000.
The new ambulance is equipped with a cardiac monitor which allows EKG’s to be electronically sent to the receiving hospital emergency room while the ambulance is enroute the, as well as other medical equipment to allow the highest standards of pre-hospital medical care.
“It’s a rolling emergency room,” said Rexroat, with a laugh. “Really, it’s an advanced life-support unit—very close to being in the ER.”
Even more important than the spiffy new ambulance are the emergency services employees who man the station and make life-saving decisions. Station 6 teams ran 459 calls in 2016; they are responsible for covering an area roughly 10 miles in diameter.
Rexroat said there are three teams that rotate on 24-hour shifts:
- A shift includes Andrew Wilson, station lieutenant and paramedic; David Schaefer, paramedic; and Josh Eaton, EMT
- B shift includes Chris Morris, station lieutenant and paramedic; Chris Brauda, paramedic; Larry Robinson, EMT
- C shift includes Jeremy Cranford, shift lieutenant and paramedic; Stacy Jordan, EMT, and Anthony Buttram, paramedic.
Dawson County Emergency Services serves residents and visitors throughout Dawson County. Its coverage area totals 211 square miles, including Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, and over 50 miles of shoreline on Lake Sydney Lanier. Lake Lanier is the most visited Corps of Engineers Lake in the United States, attracting over two million visitors annually.
DCES operates eight fire stations, of which five are staffed by career and volunteer members, and three are staffed solely by volunteers. Approximately 100 paid and volunteer members of the department responded to over 3,200 calls for service in 2016.