Ambulance donation serves as vehicle for learning to prep CNCC students for saving lives | CraigDailyPress.com

Ambulance donation serves as vehicle for learning to prep CNCC students for saving lives

— Students learning how to administer life-saving treatment will soon practice in a moving vehicle after Memorial Regional Health donated a decommissioned ambulance to the college.

"We are ecstatic that the hospital agreed to the donation and are giving the support to allow us to produce the best students we can," said Richard Nichols, Colorado Northwestern Community College Emergency Medical Service program director.

The 1997 Ford F-350 ambulance was decommissioned from service on June 10, 2015 and has been parked in the county ambulance shed for the last year, said MRH Executive Assistant Julie Hanna.

The gurney, medical equipment and supplies were removed to help outfit Advanced Life Support (ALS) 1 — an ambulance that was purchased in 2015 for $165,000 to replace the old ambulance, Hanna said.

"I was working here overseeing operations when the new ambulance was purchased. When I took over the program at CNCC I knew it (the old ambulance) would enhance training. I wanted students to be in the environment where they will be working," Nichols said.

The college EMS program currently provides Emergency Medical Technician basic, intermediate and professional level training that prepares students for EMT certification with allied health programs expected to expand.

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"We have a strong nursing program, and EMS is getting stronger," said Janell Oberlander, vice president of the Craig campus, who is hopeful that the state will soon approve a plan to allow CNCC to offer a medical assistant program in the spring or fall of 2018.

In two to three years students should be able to achieve full EMT certification locally and within five to 10 years the school hopes to have grown the program to enable students to become paramedics, Oberlander said.

Unlike other colleges that remove the box from the truck to create a stationary, simulated ambulance, Nichols plans to keep the vehicle running to allow instructors and students to drill while moving.

"This will help students transition into the real world," said EMT-Intermediate Crystal Chamberlain, who was a student of Nichols.

The vehicle's exterior will receive an overhaul with CNCC branding to clearly mark it as decommissioned.

"This won't be out on the roads. It will be used on campus so as not to have the public identify it as an ambulance," Nichols said.

Around $10,000 from a Perkins grant will buy a refurbished gurney. Other supplies and equipment used by students will be stored for use in the ambulance.

The donated ambulance will be removed from the hospital liability insurance at a savings of about $1,000 per year, however the real value in the donation is the ability to support the growth of CNCC's allied health programs, said MRH CEO Andy Daniels.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.