BURNS HARBOR | The Burns Harbor Fire Department will begin running advance life support ambulances on Saturday.
The move comes after the department has provided residents with basic life support ambulance services for the last two years, Deputy Chief Brian Beach said. The town initiated its own ambulance service to improve response times to residents.
ALS ambulance crews include paramedics who can provide more advanced services such as cardiac monitoring, drug administration and better trauma care.
"The biggest thing is drugs and IVs," Beach said.
Beach said the BLS ambulance has been manned by on-call, volunteer emergency medical technicians. The ALS ambulance will have one paramedic and one EMT. The use of part-time employees will allow the town to provide the services, but keep the costs down.
Beach said the department has run 125 to 150 calls per year in the community and felt that by upgrading from BLS to ALS services, they would be better able to serve the community.
Beach said the department will have two fully equipped ALS ambulances available. The second will be used as a back-up or will be called into duty with a volunteer paramedic and EMT if there are multiple calls. The town is home to several industries and the department will act as their primary back-up as well as serving as mutual aid for neighboring communities.
Beach said the town allotted funding to get the ALS units up and running. Praxair donated $20,000 toward the purchase of an ambulance and ArcelorMittal donated $30,000 toward equipment. Other area businesses also helped with funding.
The new service will be dedicated in a ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday at the fire department. Beach said the ceremony will provide an opportunity to thank those who helped make the service a reality and is open to the public.