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Volunteer ambulance service seeing recovery in N. Nye

Over the past two and a half years, since the closing of the Nye Regional Medical Center in Tonopah, there has been a concerted effort to stabilize health care in that region.

While the issue may not be totally remedied, there is a light at the end of the tunnel with partnerships between various entities helping to ease the strain.

County officials were proud to report that the volunteer Tonopah Ambulance Service, one major aspect of health care for the area, is finally beginning to rebound.

Nye County Emergency Management Director Vance Payne presented the Nye County Commission with an update on the ambulance service on April 3, noting that he is optimistic about the service’s future.

In December 2017, as a result of the longstanding struggles to man the volunteer service, Payne’s department sent a staff member to Tonopah to assist with the operation. This has come at a cost of roughly $28,000 to the county but Payne noted that assistance is no longer being provided.

“We ended our efforts with my office, in Tonopah on April 1,” Payne explained, remarking that the service seemed to be on its way to sustainability. “I am happy to report that through sheer tenacity, the volunteer responders in Tonopah have significantly improved their responses and their coverage on the calendar,” Payne stated.

He also honed in on the Emergency Medical Technician classes that are currently underway in Tonopah, stating, “The classes that are going on are going strong, we’ve got about a dozen members who are in training now. And we’ve picked up a handful of drivers so the overall picture is a lot better. And again, hats off to the crews and volunteers in Tonopah.”

These new volunteers also have a new ambulance to use, another point that Payne took time to detail. “The new ambulance has been put into service and it’s showed great results on the very first day it was put into service, during one of the big snowfalls. The automatic chains and the four-wheel drive became immediately popular with the crews, they have such long transports… So, big improvements,” he said.

Payne reported that county staff would be flying to Washington on April 9 to take delivery on the other two new ambulances recently purchased by the county, which are destined for Smoky Valley and Beatty.

He said staff should be able to return to the county with the new vehicles by April 13.

Also, positive forward motion for medical care in the Tonopah area has been the establishment of partnerships between the Northern Nye County Hospital District, the Regional Emergency Medical Service Authority known as REMSA and Renown Health.

REMSA has taken a stand for health care by helping to form a community paramedic program for Tonopah, something Nye County Commissioner Lorinda Wichman asked about during the presentation.

“REMSA is pretty much on track. We were hoping for April 1 but that was slightly delayed,” Payne said of the rollout of the community paramedic program.

“But they issued a calendar, they have three paramedics that will be in town within the next week or so who will be on 24-hour shifts… And they are already scheduled out all the way to December this year.”

In addition, Renown Health has launched a Nurse Health Line with a phone number specific to the area.

This is manned by registered nurses who can provide assessment, care recommendations and referrals to residents for simple illnesses and injuries, such as minor burns, coughs and colds, flu, rashes and other minor problems.

However, anyone experiencing a medical emergency is directed to call 911 rather than the Nurse Health Line. The Nurse Health Line is 775-482-3377.

“So across the board, I am tentatively hopeful. All of our people are working themselves right into the ground but there is some hope on the horizon. It’s not all doom and gloom,” Payne said in conclusion.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @pvtimes

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