Glastonbury Ambulance Association chief explains service, safety

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Mon., Aug. 19, 2013
Glastonbury Volunteer Ambulance Association Chief of Service Russ Hahn give seniors some advice on how to potentially avoid needing his services. Photos by Steve Smith.
Glastonbury Volunteer Ambulance Association Chief of Service Russ Hahn give seniors some advice on how to potentially avoid needing his services. Photos by Steve Smith.

Glastonbury Volunteer Ambulance Association's Chief of Service Russ Hahn gave an overview of what his organization does, as well as some safety tips for seniors, at the Glastonbury Senior Center on Aug. 13. Hahn said that the GVAA began about seven years ago, and started with one ambulance making about 200 calls per year. Since then, it has grown to include three intensive care ambulances that serve the town of Glastonbury, serving about 3,000 calls per year.

The ambulances are staffed 24/7 and 365 days per year, and they are always ready for calls. Hahn said that two ambulances are staffed during the day and one during the overnight hours. If the need exceeds the number of ambulances on duty, mutual aid from Manchester is called. Within two minutes of a call, the ambulance is on the road.

GVAA is the primary service for the town of Glastonbury, meaning that they get the calls first. Hahn explained that patients may always opt for whatever ambulance service they choose, and once taken by a GVAA ambulance, they will transport a patient to a hospital of their choice, within reason, but will always opt for the nearest hospital when the condition is serious.

“If we pick you up and you are having chest pain, we can't bypass a hospital and take you to a further hospital,” Hahn said. “We have to take you to the closest facility available.”

Volunteers wishing to work at the GVAA, Hahn said, are screened with background checks, and then may enter a 180-hour training program, and then must take 32 more hours of training per year. An already-trained EMT will be welcomed aboard after the check. Volunteers must put in a minimum of 432 hours of service per year.

Giving some general tips on how to help emergency workers if they come to care for you, Hahn suggested that people, especially of the elder set, keep a File of Life on hand, which will tell first-responders about medical conditions and medications. “If we come to your home and you are unable to speak to us for any reason, it tells us what you have going on better than anything else will,” he said, adding that advance directive information should be in there too. It has to be in writing on a specific form.”

Hahn said forms can be acquired at physicians' offices.

Call-for-aid boxes are recommended, especially for people who live alone. They enable someone to get help in case they fall or get stuck and need assistance. There are services that are relatively inexpensive, Hahn said.

For disasters, such as tropical storms, hurricanes and large snowstorms, a little preparedness goes a long way. Hahn suggests having a kit for disasters, which includes batteries and flashlights (not candles), medication for 3-5 days, and water for five days, as well as extra food for people as well as pets. “Something else I thought of is a manual can opener,” he said.

During the large winter storm this past January, Hahn said the GVAA went on 17 carbon monoxide calls – a couple of the calls were for grills, but most were for people using generators indoors.

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