Weston EMS — It’s free, but it’s not free

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Hopefully that headline caught your eye and you’ve decided to read a little more. That’s good, as we need you. We’re the men and women of your Weston Volunteer Emergency Medical Services organization and we need your help. For almost 50 years, we’ve been answering the emergency calls of our neighbors, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year. We’ve answered calls on Christmas morning, New Year’s Eve, during football games at the High School, on the roads in town, at our schools, our churches, and most of the time, in the homes of you, our neighbors.

Let me start with the part that Weston EMS is free. If you call 911, we’ll be there, any time of the day or night, and you won’t get a charge from us. We’ll provide emergency care and transport to you or your loved one to the nearest hospital. We serve all our neighbors, whether you’re a lifelong resident, brand new to town, doing business at the Weston Center, attending one of our schools, a contractor, or just passing through. A team of trained, experienced, state-certified EMTs will be at your side ready to provide skilled emergency care. And you won’t be billed a dime. We’re proud to be one of the few remaining EMS organizations in the state to offer these services – at no charge.

Our service is free to anyone who needs it, and we hope to keep it that way. But just because we don’t charge you, running our service isn’t free. If you’ve seen the headlines, you know that health costs are going only one way — and that’s up. There’s a company in the news charging $600 for a pair of Epi-Pens. We’ve got two sets of Epi-Pens on both our ambulances, plus spares in the station. On a call where someone is having an allergic reaction and needs this life-saving medication, we might use three of these pens. That’s $900 on a single call, not counting any other supplies we might use.

Let’s talk about another medication – Narcan. The actual name is Naloxone, and it can temporarily prevent the effects of an opioid overdose from potentially killing a patient. Due to state regulations, we have to equip more than 40 first responder bags with two doses of Narcan. We know we need to do it — one dose can keep a patient alive long enough to get them to more advanced care, but it comes at a cost. A single dose is over $10 — that’s over $800 just to get us initially equipped, plus what we need in the ambulances as well as having spares. The drug has a relatively short shelf life so we will be replacing it often.

We have other supplies. If you’ve watched TV medical dramas, you’ve seen those bags that the doctors, nurses, and EMT’s use to help people breathe — sometimes with an exaggerated shout of “Bag them!” Those are called Bag Valve masks, and they cost almost $20. Each. The list goes on and on — all supplies we need and use on a regular basis that just might save a life. Add in on-going training costs for all our current members, new radio equipment for our new EMTs, vehicle operations and maintenance costs, and the numbers add up quickly. We spend approximately $150,000 each year running our service.

And we have a new capital expense — a brand new, state-of-the-art Lifeline ambulance. We just put our new ambulance into service on Sept. 6. We’re really proud of it, and we’re excited to show it off to you. One of our existing two ambulances had been having too many mechanical issues and we deemed it not sufficiently reliable enough for an emergency vehicle, and this required us to purchase the new ambulance.

Our new ambulance cost $196,000, however, and that’s where you come in.

If you’ve donated to us in the past, thank you!! You have no idea how much your gift to us has meant. We’re asking for your help again. If you’ve not yet donated to us, well, this year we’re looking to you. Any gift amount, no matter how small, matters. We are hoping that this year’s campaign raises an amount equal to the cost of our new ambulance — $196,000.

A couple of last things – although we have the name “Weston” in our organization name, we are not a town organization. We receive NO funding from the town. Every cent we spend comes either from donations or from grants. Also, although we share space in the fire station with the Weston Volunteer Fire Department, we operate as two totally separate organizations. We respond to calls together and work hand-in-hand during emergencies, but each organization runs its own financials, does its own fund-raising, and has separate expenditures. We both need your donations to continue serving the residents of Weston.

So, please, look for our mailing in your postbox. Or, go to our website, westonems.com, and look for the Donate tab in the header across the top of the page. There’s no amount too small — it just might be enough to let us help another neighbor in an emergency.

Thanks for helping keep our service FREE, as we continue to be Neighbors Helping Neighbors.

To make emergency calls, Weston EMS purchased a new ambulance which cost the volunteer group $196,000.

To make emergency calls, Weston EMS purchased a new ambulance which cost the volunteer group $196,000.

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