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For the past two decades, commercial truck stopsaround the country have been equipped withelectrical outlets and heating, ventilation and airconditioning devices to prevent long-haul truckersfrom idling their diesel engines for extended periods.
Why hasn't that technology been adapted elsewhere,perhaps at hospitals, where diesel fumes can affecttheir mission of healing illness and injury andpromoting health?
Believe it or not, on Monday, Brattleboro MemorialHospital became the first in the nation to install"MediDocks," free-standing devices that supplyelectricity and HVAC to ambulances.
"Once you've done it, it's obvious," said HaroldGarabedine, a contractor that has been working withthe state to get
MediDocks installed at hospitals. "It's like, how doyou get that first pickle out of the jar?”
Garabedine said of all the hospitals he has pitchedthe idea to so far, Brattleboro Memorial had thegreatest willingness to take the project on.
On Monday, Gov. Peter Shumlin stopped by toobserve the MediDocks in operation.
"This is a big deal," he said. "Everything we can doto curb idling and keep people healthy is a step in theright direction.”
Shumlin said exhaust fumes from idling and "badair" cost the state $30 million every year in healthcare costs.
Not only will turning off the diesel engines save thecost of fuel, but it will also prevent exhaust fumesfrom wafting into BMH's emergency room every
time the door opens.
After Rescue Inc. drops a patient off at the hospital,emergency medical responders often spend up to anhour taking care of paperwork and transferringinformation to doctors and nurses.
During that time, they had to leave their ambulancesrunning to protect fragile medicine that shouldn'twarm up in the summer or freeze in the winter.
"We worked with the hospital to make this happen,"said Mark Considine, Rescue's chief of operations.
Tom Moye, Vermont's mobile services manager,who seeks solutions to prevent transportation-relatedair pollution, said the state has been aware of theproblem of exhaust from idling ambulances for awhile and studied the truck-stop technology beforeproposing it to hospitals around the state.
"BMH was the first hospital to step up to the plate,"said Moye.
His counterpart in New Hampshire, Felice Janelle,said the Granite State hopes to learn from Vermontand install similar devices at its hospitals.
"It shouldn't be too hard of a sell," she said, addingshe hopes to speak soon with administrators atCheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock inKeene, N.H., because of its proximity to Brattleboro.
Jeff Seyler, the CEO for the American LungAssociation of the Northeast, said BMH'sMediDocks can serve as an example for otherhospitals around the country.
"Multiply this by the thousands of facilities aroundthe country and you could really make a dent in airpollution," said Seyler.
BMH'MediDocks'Called FirstIn TheNation
April 23, 2012
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