WHITMAN — Chief Timothy Grenno is pleased to announce that the Whitman Fire Department has purchased a new ambulance through federal CARES Act funding.
The Whitman Fire Department purchased the new ambulance with the CARES Act funding program to primarily respond to calls where COVID-19 is suspected. The new unit will provide better protection for both firefighters and residents while also being better suited to handle the virus as opposed to the other units.
This will be the only ambulance dedicated to COVID-19-suspected calls. The Whitman Fire Department’s other two ambulances will stay in service for any non-COVID-19 responses. If a non COVID-19 ambulance arrives at an incident and firefighters believe the patient may potentially have COVID-19, the new ambulance will then respond to relieve the other crew in an effort to reduce exposure to the virus.
The new COVID-19 response unit will be equipped with features to keep both crew members and residents as safe as possible during treatment and transport. Features of the ambulance include a high output heating, air-conditioning and ventilation systems that move air at a much higher rate. Additionally all door handles and grab rails have anti-microbial, anti-viral coatings and the interior walls, floor and ceiling finishes are non-porous materials that resist bacterial growth and are easy to clean. These new features will help to reduce the call out service time of the unit and increase the speed of the decontamination process.
The Whitman Fire Department averages 2,800 calls per year and the number of calls continued to grow this year. Prior to the third ambulance the department had two ambulances, from 2012 and 2016, as well as one spare from 2010 that is not in condition to run as a primary unit. At the start of the pandemic one of the primary ambulances was taken out of service to become a primarily COVID-19 ambulance, placing a burden on the department.
“From the beginning of the COVID-19 emergency Whitman Fire Department has been challenged to meet the demands of the 911 call volume given the necessity to decontaminate personnel, vehicles and equipment after all potential COVID responses,” Chief Grenno said. “This third ambulance will be extremely beneficial in improving our response time while also keeping our community safe from COVID-19, especially as we move into the winter flu season where cases are expected to spike again.”