Grant enables The Memorial Hospital to bolster rural emergency calls | CraigDailyPress.com

Grant enables The Memorial Hospital to bolster rural emergency calls

TMH Foundation receives $10,000 grant from Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment; hospital matches funds

Michael Neary





Three ambulances belonging to The Memorial Hospital, in Craig, are scheduled to receive new radio equipment, funded in part by a $10,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. The hospital's newest ambulance, which a previous grant from the CDPHE helped fund, is pictured here.
Michael Neary

— Emergency calls in rural parts of Northwest Colorado carry challenges — and with limited cell phone coverage, the role of radio equipment in ambulances becomes particularly important.

With some of those challenges in mind, The Memorial Hospital Foundation has landed a $10,000 Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment provider grant to help purchase new radio equipment for its three ambulances. The grant required a 50 percent match from the hospital for a total of $20,000.

"Cell phone service in Northwest Colorado is very limited," said Stayton Mosbey. "In those areas where there is not cell phone service, that's where we would use our radios to contact the hospital."

Mosbey, an emergency medical technician-intermediate, said the hospital's current radios in the ambulances are aging.

"The radios that are in there now are past the end of their service life," he said. "So if there was anything to break on them — microphones, control heads, all those things that go out — we'd have to buy a new radio."

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The new radios, Mosbey said, also operate on dual frequencies: VHF, or Very High Frequency, and 800 MHz, the main frequency type used by the state. The current radios in the ambulances only operate on 800 MHz.

"We have the ability, with (the new) radios, to switch from VHF to the state 800 system," he said. "There are areas in Moffat County where the 800 system doesn't work. For instance, in the Hamilton Canyon, there's no 800 coverage. On parts of North 13, there's no 800 coverage."

Elizabeth Metcalf, TMH's emergency services manager, said that's an instance in which new equipment can help.

"In that case we can try to use the VHF towers and see if we can relay off those," she said.

Mosbey said that VHF is unavailable in some areas, as well, but having both capabilities on the new radios creates a better chance for communication — particularly if there are outages in the 800 MHz coverage.

"With the VHF, it provides us with a backup system," he said.

TMH Foundation Director Eva Peroulis noted the importance of the investment.

THM Foundation Director Eva Peroulis wrote the application to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for a grant that will help fund new radio equipment for the hospital's ambulances.Michael Neary

"The dual band (radios) are hard to find," Peroulis said. "There were only three vendors that produced them. It's a good investment."

The radio equipment is slated to be in operation in the coming months.

Jennifer Riley, chief of marketing and business development for TMH, said this grant is one of a series of annual Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Emergency Medical Services grants.

Last year, Peroulis and Riley said, a CDPHE grant helped to pay for the hospital's newest ambulance.

The Memorial Hospital's current ambulance radio equipment, pictured here, will soon be replaced with new equipment that has greater capabilities.Michael Neary

Riley noted the challenges of providing emergency medical care in a large and often rural territory.

"Our challenges are sometimes unique," Riley said. "If you look strictly at the land size of Moffat County, it's the second-largest county in the state, and it's largely very, very rural. Sometimes we respond very far away, and we have to be able to provide that consistent, quality care — even out 75 miles from here."

Peroulis noted that grant opportunities for rural communities do exist, but she said they can be difficult to obtain.

"There are grants out there, but it's very competitive," she said. "So you really need to make your grant stand out."

Riley noted that, despite the competition for funding, collaboration on services among agencies in rural areas does occur regularly.

"Where we do collaborate well is on services," Riley said. "There are ambulance services outside of what TMH provides. There's a volunteer ambulance service in Maybell. There's an ambulance service that runs out of Colowyo. Those services are integral in providing immediate care if there's an accident out in those far reaches, and then we will often go and meet them … and assist them."

Contact Michael Neary at 970-875-1794 or mneary@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Education.

Past grants

Past grants received from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment by The Memorial Hospital include $100,000 toward a new ambulance in 2015; $50,000 toward the Electronics Medical Records (EMR) system for the emergency department in 2014; and $10,000 toward cardiac ultrasound equipment for the emergency department in 2013.

Information comes from The Memorial Hospital Foundation.