State inspectors check Pocahontas ambulances
Marlinton, W.Va. – A team of inspectors visited Pocahontas County on Wednesday to check out the county’s ambulance squads. The inspectors work for the West Virginia EMS Technical Support Network, which reports to the state Office of Emergency Management Services.
Inspector Laura Forren talks about the purpose of the inspections.
“We want to ensure to the public and to the community that, when they call 911 and request an ambulance, the ambulance is fully-equipped to treat them in the necessary manner to get them to the hospital.”
The inspector says Pocahontas County ambulances looked good.
“They looked very good today,” she said. “We were at all the agencies today and everyone looked great. Normally, our time schedule, we’re running a little bit behind, you know, rushing trying to get to the next squad and we had time to spare today.”
Wednesday’s inspection was announced in advance, but the team also conducts surprise spot inspections every year. Forren describes how spot inspections are done.
“Well, what we do – we will usually host at a hospital,” she said. “So, we may get several different squads during that spot inspection, at one time. We can maybe get them at a hospital, doctor’s office, anywhere that we see them out and mobile, they are subject to a spot inspection. So, we may get four or five squads in one day.
“We have not done a spot inspection in Pocahontas County – it’s probably been, probably eight or nine months.”
A failed inspection can take an ambulance out of service.
“What we do, if we find they are deficient in what we consider to be a mandatory item, we will contact the state office, advise them of that and then, yes, the state office will take them out of service,” Forren said. “We have had to do that before, but not in Pocahontas County.”
Toni Hall has worked as an ambulance inspector for 20 years.
“I’ve seen some really dirty ambulances,” she said. “I mean, dirty when I got out of them, you just felt dirty. You were dirty. It’s been several years ago and it wasn’t in this county.”
Hall explains why her job is important.
“I care about the people in the communities,” she said. “I want to make sure that everything – if they need help – they’re going to have what they need at that time.”
Forren talks about the typical first responder.
“They’re very special people that work on the ambulances,” she said. “They’re passionate and they’re caring about others. The work holidays – they work nights – they work weekends. If you pick up the phone and you dial 911 in what you consider to be your worst nightmare, they’re going to be there. We ensure that they’re going to be there with the proper equipment to treat you.”
Dr. Ronald Fleming, medical director for the Cass Rescue Squad, talks about what motivates people to volunteer as emergency medical responders and firefighters.
“Well, volunteering is something that each individual has to want to do,” he said. “You’re not getting paid for it, but it is, more or less, a self-satisfaction that one would get for knowing that you went out on a call and you helped this person, who was in need, and you were there. And you gave the effort and you actually helped this individual. You can actually see the difference that you made in this individual’s life – to get them from a burning building or from a car accident, or some little old lady that fell and broke her hip. You get them to a hospital and you helped them out. You get to see that. And, in my life experience, you will get it back, eventually. People will remember that and you do change people’s lives when you volunteer to help people.”