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Donations Help Upgrade Equipment
Community Ambulance
Displaying the new Toughbooks and hydraulic lift gurney are Escalon Community Ambulance personnel, from left, Operations Manager Mike Pitassi, EMT Michael Biagi, Paramedic Leah Robinson, Paramedic Vanessa Herrero and EMT Hilary Bennett. Marg Jackson/The Times


Toughbooks and hydraulic lift gurneys – the face of emergency care has changed – but thanks to donations, Escalon Community Ambulance is changing along with it.

A previous donation from the Escalon Lions Club of $15,800 for a hydraulic lift gurney finished out the fleet, said Chief Mike Pitassi, with all ambulances now outfitted with the state-of-the-art hydraulic gurneys.

“This is the newest one, but that rounded out our ALS (Advanced Life Support) fleet with all power gurneys,” Pitassi said. “It has saved a lot of backs, it is capable of lifting 700 pounds and it’s also for patient safety, these gurneys are more comfortable for the patient.”

The ambulance service also is now outfitted with Panasonic Toughbooks – four of them purchased through funding provided by Mark Hogan – that allow for electronic patient records, another advancement that brings the service into the 21st century.

“The state of California and federal (officials) are pushing for the electronic system,” Pitassi said. “These toughbooks are military grade computers and they give us a direct link to the hospitals.”

Pitassi said the cost of the new Toughbooks was almost $15,000 and the Hogan donation also provided additional funds to enhance the GPS systems in the ambulances that ECA uses.

“Very generous and gracious,” Pitassi said of the donations from Hogan and the Lions Club, both going above and beyond in support of the local ambulance service.

Escalon recently entered into an agreement with SEMSA, Sierra Medical Services Alliance, for administrative services and Pitassi said they are moving forward with budgeting and an operational plan for the coming year. The staff at ECA has remained the same, with local residents seeing familiar faces on the ambulances.

Through it all, Pitassi said, they have been able to count on the community.

“Out here, that’s what we depend on sometimes,” he noted, adding that all donations, big and small, help immensely. “Though the generosity of businesses, organizations, families and individuals, we are keeping the doors open.”