(MEDFORD, OR June 24, 2009 ) Medford-based Mercy Flights Air and Ground Ambulance did what it always does when a call for help comes in. It jumped to respond. Only this time, the call came from Sri Lanka and its fledgling Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program.
Tigard-based Medical Teams International has been working for three years in Sri Lanka to develop EMT’s and ambulance services. Since the devastating Tsunami of 2004, a strong Oregon connection has been built with participating emergency services agencies and paramedics.
Paul Bollinger, senior EMS advisor to Medical Teams International was notified of an urgent need for transport ventilators, used to help patients breathe during long rides. Paul contacted president of Oregon State Ambulance Association (OSAA), Shawn Baird, who has made two trips to Sri Lanka working on the project. The request went out to OSAA members and Mercy Flights general manager Ken Parsons quickly identified two surplus units they could make available.
“It’s great that this equipment can continue to save lives” Parsons said. “We have been fortunate to be able to upgrade, but the donated units still have a lot of capability.” According to Bollinger the new EMS system is quickly developing in Sri Lanka “We have enjoyed tremendous support from emergency responders in Oregon in getting this going. It is paying off in lives saved.”