Rotaries team up to save lives
By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
CAIRO — Three area Rotaries teamed up to help bring cutting-edge medical technology to every area of Greene County.
The Rotaries — Cairo, Greenville and Coxsackie-Athens — raised nearly $10,000 to purchase five IV warmers, with Greene County Paramedics chipping in another $8,000 or so. The initiative makes Greene County the first in seven counties in the region to own IV warmers, the newest technology to treat patients being transported by paramedics to a hospital.
When patients are given IV (intravenous) fluids, the liquid is significantly cooler than body temperature, so warming it up would be beneficial, Steve Near, chief of operations for Greene County Paramedics, said.
“You don’t want to administer cold fluids because it will make you colder and it doesn’t help anything that your body is trying to do,” Near said. “Your body has a lot of clotting factors that warm fluids will help fight against. This will keep the fluid up to about 100 degrees, close to your body’s temperature, and help everything go smoothly.”
The warming units take about 10 seconds to heat up the IV fluid, Near said.
“It is essentially instantaneous,” he added. “It can be used for any IV fluid — it can go from near frozen and it will warm it up to 100 degrees.”
The IV warmers will be particularly valuable in skiing accidents, hypothermia and major traumas, especially in colder weather, but can be beneficial for just about any situation, he said.
“If it’s 90 degrees outside, that is still 8 degrees less than your body temperature, so you can use it for anybody at any time,” Near said. “We probably won’t use it every single time, but there will be a patient population that we will use it for.”
“We are the first agency in the region to have this,” he added. “It will help with clotting factors, it will help keep patients warm, it will be good for people who fall down and nobody checks on them all night and we find them the next morning. There really is no drawback — it can help anybody, at any age.”
The five units will be kept with the five paramedic ambulances in the county — one each in Greenville, Coxsackie, Cairo, Hunter and Prattsville.
“We bought five units — there will be one unit on each truck and those five trucks are spread around the county,” said Mark Evans, president of Greene County Paramedics.
The idea to purchase the IV warmers first came from Aiden O’Connor, a former legislator from Durham and current paramedic and Rotarian in Cairo.
“Aiden realizes and understands that technological improvements are out there and we at Greene County EMS have always tried to stay at the cutting edge of everything — when there are new protocols that have come out and new medications are approved, we get them as soon as we can,” Evans said. “Our guiding principle is to stay on the cutting edge because we don’t have a hospital in the county so our transportation times are longer and consequently, we need to have the best EMS that we can. We think we have a great system, between the ambulances and the paramedics.”
Since Greene County is the first in the region to have IV warmers, the department will likely be part of a study to evaluate their effectiveness, Evans said.
“These are additional potential lifesaving devices, and we are very pleased that the Rotaries were able to partner with us and provide a portion of the funding,” Evans said.
O’Connor said the idea was first broached by the Cairo Rotary Club about two years ago.
“We were able to collectively raise about $4,000,” O’Connor said. “Because the devices are about $3,500 a unit and we needed five units, we asked for help from our fellow Rotary Clubs. We reached out to the Greenville Rotary Club, who was as enthusiastic as we were and was able to raise $2,500. We reached out to our friends at the Coxsackie-Athens Rotary Club and they were able to raise $2,500.”
Altogether, the three Rotaries raised about $9,000, and Greene County Paramedics added the bulk of the remaining funds to buy the five devices.
O’Connor said he learned through various training programs he participated in that IV warmers can improve patient outcomes.
“We are probably one of the first in the state of New York to carry these in a rural, pre-hospital environment,” O’Connor said. “Our hope is that this will show that these absolutely make a positive impact on patient outcome and we want to measure that success… It is very exciting.”
Beau Loendorf, president of the Cairo Rotary Club, said the club wanted to fundraise for a health initiative and the decision to purchase IV warmers specifically was suggested by medical professionals.
“We took it upon ourselves to lead the charge, and then we partnered with Coxsackie and Greenville, who were generous to give us donations,” Loendorf said.
Cairo Rotary Club’s biggest fundraiser was a pancake breakfast in February, but they also raised money through other events like a Halloween party in October, Rotary Eats and online donations from the community.
Cecile Plattner, president of Greenville Rotary Club, said O’Connor and Loendorf made a presentation to their club about the project, and the Greenville club jumped on board.
“The Rotary motto is ‘Service Above Self,’ and we try to do whatever we can to meet our community’s needs,” Plattner said.
Evans is a member of the Coxsackie-Athens Rotary Club and reached out to his fellow club members to see if they wanted to get involved in the fundraising initiative, said Sam Pigeon, president of the Coxsackie-Athens Rotary Club.
“We decided this is amazing and lifesaving, and we wanted to make a donation,” Pigeon said. “We knew this was going to be lifesaving for people and we wanted to make sure they had what they need to save lives.”
Greene County Legislator Ed Bloomer, R-Athens, is the liaison to the Greene EMS board and a member of the Coxsackie-Athens Rotary, and said a county that does not have its own hospital must have a strong emergency response service.
“Greene EMS has a wonderful reputation,” Bloomer said. “Greene County is a county that does not have a hospital so we have to have a really good ambulance system and we do. We stay on the cutting edge as much as possible. This is literally going to be a lifesaver.”