Ryan Township ambulance crews begin carrying glucometers – News

Ambulance crews from Ryan Township this month tried a new instrument called a glucometer that detects blood sugar, and the device spared one of their patients from going to a hospital.

“In this case, the guy had a sugar problem,” Ryan Township Rescue Squad Chief Darrell Harris said.

A paramedic gave the patient glucose. The patient’s blood sugar rose, and he started feeling better.

“Now he’s alert and the doctor said he doesn’t have to come in, which saves him a hospital trip and a bill,” Harris said.

Ryan Township is the first ambulance approved to use glucometers in the Eastern Pennsylvania EMS Council that covers the counties of Schuylkill, Carbon, Lehigh, Monroe, Northampton and Berks.

Previously, only paramedic units toted glucometers, but the state revised regulations so ambulances or basic life support units could use them too.

John Kloss, executive director of the EMS council, explained the process that Ryan Township followed to gain approval to carry glucometers.

The Ryan Township squad’s medical director had to agree to add glucometers to the ambulances.

Emergency medical technicians who ride in the ambulances had to complete a course online on how to use glucometers. Also, the ambulance company had to obtain a laboratory waiver from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Kloss said the waiver is required because taking a blood test makes the ambulance company, in effect, a mobile laboratory.

EMTs will calibrate the glucometers periodically, preferably daily, he said.

Kloss said other ambulance companies are following the process to add glucometers to their rigs.

“It’s going to make its hands into many of the BLS (Basic Life Support) ambulances. It’s another great tool,” Kloss said

Harris said glucometers help EMTs and doctors distinguish between conditions that present similar symptoms, such as diabetes and stroke.

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