Innovative “back seat” design wins award for Gilpin Ambulance

Secure responders give better care

By Lynn Volkens

Imagine a paramedic trying to provide patient care in the back of an ambulance as it bumps up, down and over mountain roads, gains speed along paved highways, leans and swings around curves, brakes suddenly or swerves to avoid or get past the other vehicles on the road. Some, if not all, of the above is work-a-day for Gilpin Ambulance Authority’s paramedics. The back of GAA’s ambulances are designed to accommodate these specialized road trips. Each piece of medical equipment, canister of oxygen, box of bandages and bottle of medicine has a place. Everything is contained, strapped in and secure and although the paramedic is supposed to be, that can make it difficult to provide patient care. Thanks to a new chair design, created by GAA’s personnel, paramedics here, and potentially worldwide, are able to do more of their work while remaining safely buckled into their seats.

Gilpin Ambulance Director, Zane Laubhan, gives the credit to paramedic Nicholas (Cole) Van Epps. “He’s the one who did most of the work on it,” Laubhan told the GAA board of directors at their meeting on May 8, 2013. The chair is designed ergonomically so that it’s easier on the paramedic’s body, and it’s articulated so it can pivot. Sometimes, an injured person’s care requires the paramedic to work from an odd angle. The new chair design accommodates that while keeping the paramedic safely buckled in at the same time.

The Gilpin Ambulance chair design drew the attention of the Colorado Emergency Services Association (CESA).  On May 8th, Jeff Cunningham, of Volunteer Fireman’s Insurance Services (VFIS), presented Gilpin Ambulance with the CESA 2012 most innovative Member Award. A letter from Sue Silverthorn, VFIS Safety/Risk Management Specialist, offered congratulations. She wrote that the award was based in part on Gilpin Ambulance’s “innovative measures in ambulance design” and “an exceptional commitment to creating a safe work environment.” CESA also commended Gilpin Ambulance for applying for grants, implementing a “rigorous” physical screening process of employees and their ongoing wellness program. Central City Council member, Gloria Gaines offered her congratulations to Gilpin Ambulance, as well, and urged them to consider patenting the chair design.

Gilpin Ambulance Authority serves the residents and visitors in Black Hawk, Central City and unincorporated Gilpin County. Ambulances, staffed 24-hours a day, are based at Black Hawk Fire Station and Timberline Fire Station No. 2 in mid-county. Calls for the ambulance are on the rise. Statistics for 2013, year-to-date, show Gilpin Ambulance Authority is averaging 133 calls per month. The paramedics and EMT’s responding to those calls are trained beyond the norm of the average metro-area emergency responders, so that exceptional care can be maintained throughout the extended transport time to a hospital. With the new chair design, they’ll be able to provide the best care in a more secure manner, insuring a smoother ride for all.

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