New ambulance added to city fire department

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Cumberland Fire Department’s Ambulance 341 will be placed in service by the end of this month. Left to right are Firefighter Steve Hout; Lt. Michael Kerns and Lt. Vince Pyle, EMS officers; Cumberland Mayor Brian Grim; and Chief Donald Dunn.  Photo Courtesy of Michael Kerns, Cumberland Fire Department 


May 14, 2011, Jeffrey Alderton, Cumberland Times-News

CUMBERLAND — By the end of the month, ambulance No. 341 of the Cumberland Fire Department will be in service for calls.

The fifth ambulance in the department is a 2011 International model with custom-designed interior layout designed for more efficient use by paramedics in delivering care to their patients.

Lts. Vince Pyle and Mike Kerns, who are paramedics, and firefighter/EMT Steve Hout “put in a lot of hours” crafting the interior design for the patient transport area of the vehicle, according to Cumberland Fire Chief Donnie Dunn.

“We tried to make it 100 percent more user-friendly,” said Hout, who traveled with Kerns and Pyle recently to the ambulance manufacturing plant in Ohio for a final inspection  — and to insist on a couple of last-minute modifications that ultimately provided the department the best ambulance it could find.

“We tried to take the best out of several different designs,” said Pyle.

Kerns said ambulance 341 is a “step up in equipment” among the ambulances used by the Cumberland Fire Department to provide 24-7 service throughout the city and to other locations, as needed and upon request.

The new ambulance, coupled with the current addition of eight new firefighters through a recently obtained grant, will allow the city to begin running two front-line ambulances at all times. There will be four ambulances in service to answer calls and a fifth ambulance will also be available.

Having two front-line ambulances in service every hour of the day, instead of only one, is something new for the department.

The expansion of the ambulance service also positions the city to play a greater role in providing countywide emergency medical services — if requested to do so.

Mayor Brian Grim said Friday the city has been taking part in ongoing discussions for some time with Allegany County about providing ambulance service outside the city when needed. “The discussions have centered on EMS services, mutual aid and medic assists,” said Grim. “This new ambulance provides us with one more piece of equipment to provide service if called upon. It’s a moving hospital.”

The mayor said that the city fire department has “become younger and more EMS-trained over the years.”

“But we have to balance patient care and financing of those calls and make sure the city is getting paid for the calls it is running,” said the mayor.

At a cost of $215,000, the new ambulance is being paid for out of the department’s operating budget and through grant money.

The grant bringing eight new firefighters to the department is funded for two years. It must be fully funded in the third year by the city.

“The savings in overtime over the next two years with the addition of the new firefighters is expected to pay the cost for the third year of the grant,” said Dunn. The mayor concurred with the the chief's calculation, admitting that “tough economic times” could challenge the third-year funding formula.

In support of the ambulance service, the mayor and council members have done ride-alongs with ambulance crews to learn more about the service. “It’s impressive to see what takes place,” said Grim. He also said the mayor and council — including previous administrations — have “always had a dedication to public safety.”

“The chief has played a big part in this process in providing good public safety. We recognize that it is not easy,” said Grim, “but the cooperative environment of all the city staff has helped the process and moved it along.”

Contact Jeffrey Alderton at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.