Ferries receive medical equipment
Interstate Navigation s ferry fleet will be the recipient of some upgraded medical equipment courtesy of a $13,250 grant from the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency. The medical equipment would be available to first responders, as well as trained personnel in the event of a medical emergency during a trip between Pt. Judith and Block Island. Three traditional ferries and two hi-speed ferries will be equipped with the gear. According to the grant request, the equipment will be stored in a newly installed storage unit on each vessel. Each of the storage units will contain the following: active assault advance medical equipment, a trauma bag, four to six EMT kits, and backboards. All of the ferries have a first-aid kit and defibrillator onboard. Bill McCombe, the Director of Security for Interstate Navigation, and the co-director of the island s EMA operation, spearheaded the effort to acquire the emergency response equipment. McCombe told The Block Island Times that addressing an emergency situation requires the combination of capability and assets. Now we will have the assets necessary to handle most medical emergencies.
McCombe said that the grant was made possible through the assistance of RIEMA Director Peter Gaynor and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo. They expedited this so that it can be implemented for this summer season, said McCombe. This is the same equipment that the EMT s carry. The New Shoreham Town Council unanimously approved submitting the grant at its June 5 meeting. In a memo sent to the Council for that meeting, McCombe noted that, The project request (for the non-matching grant) is a collaboration of a public, private and volunteer effort to respond to a major medical (emergency), or the onset of a mass casualty.
The ferry can carry over 1,000 passengers and 35 vehicles on any given trip, McCombe wrote, noting that medical emergencies are handled by the crew, and first responders that identify themselves as policemen, firemen, nurses and doctors, etc. With a ferry trip of an hour and limited medical response time, their efforts can be lifesaving. During the meeting, McCombe told the Town Council the idea was born out of a conversation he had with Fire Department Secretary Beth Rousseau about the need for advanced medical equipment on the boats for a response to a medical emergency. McCombe noted that, the equipment would be the property of the Rescue Squad.
McCombe said he and Rescue Squad member Kate McConville compiled a list of requested medical supply items that they thought would be beneficial for an emergency response.
I think it s an excellent idea, said McConville, who noted that McCombe approached her about applying for the grant. This equipment would only be used by medical personnel. The ferry crews would still have their first-aid kits on the boats. This equipment is going to be for a serious incident on the ferries.
Who makes the call on what is a serious incident on the boat? asked First Warden Ken Lacoste.
The mate, who also serves as the vessel s security officer, said McCombe. What would happen in the event of an emergency if the ferry crew needed additional help they would make a public address announcement, etc. The equipment would then be made available to medical personnel on the boat.
Will every boat have the same equipment on it? asked resident Cliff McGinnes, Sr.
Yes, it s to scale, said McCombe. So the larger boats will have the same amount of equipment, and the hi-speed will have a pared-down version of the equipment. But all of the boats will have the medical equipment that is appropriate to the amount of passengers that they carry. I think that it s going to be a great asset.
In times of crisis people come out of the woodwork to assist in a medical emergency, added McCombe.
And now they will have a toolkit to work with, said Second Warden Norris Pike.