October 27, 2020

Facts & Figures from Old Lyme EMS; Who Does What at a Vehicle Accident Scene, Managing the COVID Crisis in Old Lyme

CategoryJanuary 2020February 2020March 2020
Traumatic Injury131
Breathing issues149
Abdominal pain101
Chest pain751
Cardiac arrest001
CVA (stroke)010
Altered Mental Status204
Traffic accident (MVA)1794
Medical device143
Hazardous Material (HazMat)300
Lift Assist100
Fire assistance for PT's130
Allergic reaction000
Psychiatric/Abnormal Behavior435
Poisoning, e.g., CO2 200

OLD LYME — Traffic accidents for the three-month period from January through March of this year totaled 30, whereas incidents involving pain/sickness increased to 45. 

We are coming out of winter and hoping traffic accidents due to inclement weather will slow down, though we will likely see an increase in traffic accidents in our area as summer approaches. Some reasons for this include: distraction from sun glare, more people (pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists) outside, teenagers home from school, and an increase in road construction projects. 

Also, as residents are aware, Old Lyme’s traffic increases significantly during the warmer months with summer residents and beach visitors. We can also expect more traffic with the near-future lifting of the Covid-19 self-isolation. 

Old Lyme Ambulances generally respond to accident scenes.

When an accident occurs on local roads, town or state police, ambulance(s) and sometimes fire trucks and apparatus will respond. In addition to service vehicles, many volunteers show up on the scene in their private vehicles to assist with numerous tasks including obtaining patient information, vitals, fetching equipment and then securely replacing it back in the ambulance before transport to the ER. 

If a paramedic arrives on scene and travels with the patient in the ambulance to the ER, then the volunteer can drive their paramedic vehicle and follow the ambulance to the ER. This way, the paramedic will have their paramedic vehicle for the next call without having to be dropped back off at the scene. There are many reasons why it’s important to have extra hands on deck.

In most cases, it is important for volunteers to arrive at the scene of the accident prior to the ambulance’s arrival. Volunteers are able to stabilize the patient, obtain invaluable information by sizing up the scene, and documenting personal information including the patient’s  medication list, vital signs, nature of the illness or injury and more. As a result, by the time the ambulance and crew arrive, much of the initial work is completed and if needed, the patient(s) can be transported to the ER sooner.

A new stretcher system facilitates moving a patient into an ambulance.

Ambulances use a siren with red and white emergency lights to inform traffic that they are on the way to a call. During an active emergency and on the way to the scene, volunteer EMTs and EMRs use green lights in their vehicles (volunteer firemen use blue lights.) Whenever you are driving and see a vehicle with these lights approaching, please move safely to the shoulder so the First Responders can get to the scene. 

All EMT’s and EMR’s carry a trauma bag with lifesaving First Responder equipment so that, when arriving on the scene, they can radio to 911 dispatch or the responding ambulance the location of the emergency, for example, if a home is not marked well or if patient is injured on a trail. Also, they will request additional services if needed, such as police, paramedic, additional ambulance, extra man power, or the LIFE STAR helicopter.  

With Covid-19 still prevalent, respiratory distress calls more than doubled in March. Chief Tom Rozanski, President Claire Haskins, Vice President Dave Musto and Deputy Chief Juan Tirado of the Old Lyme Emergency Management Services (EMS) Executive Committee have been very busy coordinating virtual meetings for emergency preparedness with town Emergency Operations Committee, chaired by Old Lyme Fire Marshal Dave Roberge. Included in the meeting are Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy Griswold, Old Lyme Selectmen Christopher Kerr and Mary Jo Nosal, Resident State Trooper Matt Weber and town officers, and Old Lyme Fire Chief Steve Super.

The Old Lyme EMS Executive Committee has also had virtual meetings with other surrounding town ambulance departments.  Due to the demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), when supplies becomes available, a volunteer quickly offers to pick them up.  Many hands lighten the load.

Old Lyme EMS thanks the residents in advance for allowing us to serve our community. If you are interested in joining, call 860-434-0089. There are always two EMT’s manning the Cross Lane building from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., unless they are responding to a call. In light of the current social distancing protocol, it is best to call about how to obtain an application.  


Facts & Figures from Old Lyme EMS; Falls Dominate List of Reasons for Ambulance Call-Outs

You’ve seen their ambulances around town but do you know how many calls they respond to in a month?

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme EMS Ambulance Service responded to 74 calls in November 2019 and 70 in December 2019.

Breathing Issues 56
Abdominal pain22
Chest Pain33
Cardiac Arrest03
Altered Mental Status04
Traffic accident/MVA1610
Medical Device - alarm61
Hazardous Material (Fumes, etc.)00
Stand-by (Fire, etc.)31
Lift Assistance00
Fire - EMS for patients/firemen21
Cold exposure00
Allergic Reaction00
Psychiatric/Behavioral Health74

Following Up On Falls — Why They Happen, How to Avoid Them, What to Do If they Happen

Falls came in as the number one reason for ambulance call-outs in December and number two in November.

Falls can be caused by a myriad of reasons including falling out of a bed, off of a ladder, or down stairs; or slipping on a wet floor, snow/ice, or toys; or a medical reasonsuch as a changed or new medication resulting in a loss of balance.

If you have a walking frame, always use it to avoid falls.

Many falls are preventable if people would simply take a second to ask themselves if they should take the risk of going up the ladder, or call someone to help instead. Similarly, taking a few steps without a walker or cane when you normally use one, or making a snap decision to run out and get the mail in the snow without putting on the proper boots to avoid a slip can have disastrous consequences.

The amount of time it takes to think about a quick action like those mentioned is much shorter than the time it will taketo recover from an injury. Ask yourself if the risk is worth it or would it better to wait?

Although falls happen at any age, records show that 32,000 seniors fall each year causing detrimental injuries to themselves. With aging bodies, these injuries can be both life-altering and extremely costly to treat.

Whatever the injury, when you call 911, you can be assured that Old Lyme EMT’s (Emergency Medical Technician) and EMR’s (Emergency Medical Responders) are trained to the National Education Standards. Moreover, every EMT or EMR in the United States is trained to the exact same level by means of monthly mandatory and elective training sessions. (Our training will be the subject of another article.)

After a fall, if you are in a safe place, it is best not to move. Emergency Medical Service providers will evaluate the mechanism of injury, including

  • CMS (Circulatory, Motor and Sensory)-evaluation
  • obtaining vital signs to rule out any possible medical reasons for the fall
  • asking the patient or witness(es) full details of the fall/injury, recent pertinent medical issues and medication list.

Another way to avoid falls is to use the facilities provided by stores andbusinesses to assist you.

Once on the scene, it should take about 10 minutes in total to evaluate the reason for fall, take vitals, and stabilize any injuries for transport.

There may be times when a patient has hit his/her head and experienced a severe injury or bleed. This is when the 911 dispatcher will also send a paramedic to the scene — typically a paramedic from the Middlesex Health Medical Center in Westbrook.

Emergency Medical Technicians and EMR’s make up the body of a volunteer ambulance organization for BLS (Basic Life Support) whereas Paramedics provide ALS (Advanced Life Support.)

The paramedic will perform an advanced evaluation. Paramedics are ‘advanced’ EMT’s, who are able to run an EKG, intubate the airway, start an IV, administer medications, and more.

If paramedics find it necessary to stay with the patient for advanced care and transport with the EMT/EMR’s, they take over the care of the patient supported by BLS assistance frm the EMT/EMR’s.

An Important Reminder About ‘Lift Assists’

There may be a time when a patient has fallen and — whether elderly or not — is unable to get up. Under those circumstances, you can call 911 and request a ‘Lift Assist.’ An ambulance crew will respond to the scene, evaluate the patient’s vitals and ensure the patient is stable other than needing to be assisted and helped to their requested place, e.g. bed, chair, wheelchair.

There is no charge for this assistance — it is a community service. In the event additional manpower is required, 911 dispatchers will put out a call requesting additional EMS crew and/or volunteer firemen.

After evaluating a patient, if it is felt that the patient requires more than just a ‘Lift Assist,’ transportation will be provided.

If you have an interest in joining OLEMS to receive training as an EMR or EMT, call 860-434-0089 or stop by the Cross Lane Fire/EMS building Monday through Friday from 6 a.m.to 5 p.m. for more information. (The office will be manned unless the day crew is out on a call.)


We’re Starting a New Monthly Column Today! Facts & Figures From Old Lyme EMS

You’ve seen their ambulances around town but do you know how many calls they respond to in a month?

OLD LYME — We’re delighted to launch a new monthly column today and we are indebted to Doris Coleman for making it happen.  She is a member of the Old Lyme Ambulance Association (OLAA) and came up with the idea of sharing the OLAA monthly statistics related to calls provided to the community with our readers.

She then discussed the idea extensively with her colleagues and ultimately they took a vote on the proposal, which passed successfully.

So here we are ready to share the statistics for the first month, September 2019, but Coleman has decided she would go the extra mile and give us an extra snippet of information related to the OLAA each month.

For this inaugural column, she has chosen to explain how the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) were formed.
The idea of creating an EMS evolved from the care of wounded soldiers in time of war coupled with the need for transportation of civilian accident victims who were being transported to hospital by Department of Transportation police officers or firefighters.
In 1966, the National Association of Sciences published the groundbreaking work, Accidental Death and Disability: The Neglected Disease of Modern Society, which revolutionized the way we view and manage care in this country. Hospitals and doctors felt that these injury victims should be medically treated during transportation, but only approximately 8 percent of medical service providers at that time were trained in basic first aid by organizations such as the American Red Cross and 23 percent in advanced EMS skills.
In 1970, the National Registry of EMTs (NR-EMTs) was formed but only 1,520 of the registered personnel were trained as EMTs in the United States. By 1973, all states trained their EMTs to a national standard set by NR-EMT. Today, there are over 20,000 EMS providers in just Connecticut alone.
For the month of September 2019, Old Lyme EMS ambulance responded to 63 calls:
Falls                                    14
Pain /sickness                  13
Injuries                                2
Diabetic problems             2
Breathing problems          6
Abdominal pain                 1
Chest pain                           1
Cardiac arrest                     1
Stroke (CVA)                       3
Altered mental status        9
Traffic accidents  (MVA)   6
Medical device alarms       2
Hazardous material            1
Stand-by                                1
Lift assist                               1
TOTAL                             63
*CVA: cerebro-vascular accident
*MVA: motor vehicle accident
For the month of October 2019, the Old Lyme EMS Ambulance Service responded to 73 calls. The number of runs increased by 10 over the previous month. Breathing problems nearly doubled compared to September, probably due to the fall season increasing the prevalence of hay fever, which in turn, can exacerbate the health of people suffering from compromised lung diseases.
Falls                                12
Pain/sickness                13
Injuries                            0
Diabetic problems         0
Breathing problems      11
Abdominal                       2
Chest pain                        8
Cardiac arrest                  0
Stroke/CVA                      2
Altered mental status     4
Traffic acc./MVA             8
Medical device alarms    3
Hazardous material        0
Stand-by                            0
Lift assist                           0
Fire                                     2
Cold exposure                   1
Convulsion/seizure         2
Unconscious/fainting     3
Allergic reaction               1
Overdose                            1
TOTAL:                         73
*CVA: cerebro-vascular accident
*MVA: motor vehicle accident

The above terms and categories will be elaborated on in future monthly articles.

If you have an interest in volunteering with the Old Lyme Ambulance or would like to find out more about their work, you are welcome to stop by the Ambulance Association on Cross Lane, Old Lyme, or call 860-434-0089.