It's a known fact that, on a disaster scene, EMS providers and groups like the American Red Cross (ARC) sometimes have differences of opinion. But earlier this year, Charles Pressler, MBA, EMT-P, executive director of Central Bucks Ambulance and Rescue Unit (CBAR) in Doylestown, PA, found a compromise between his service and the local ARC that is working well for everyone and giving EMS a higher profile within the community. "A member of our board of directors who volunteers with the Red Cross called me in January to say they were losing their office space and wondered if I could suggest a place for them to establish a site and house their vehicles," says Pressler. "I've been itching to be more involved in the community, and this became an opportunity to become involved and help another organization at the same time."
The ambulance service was already in the process of writing a grant to finish its second floor, says Pressler, and this seemed like a perfect fit. In addition to allowing the ARC to park its response vehicles at the station, CBAR has provided them with access to its training room for meetings and community CPR and first aid training. Not only that, he adds, it can be used as a refuge during any type of emergency. "If, for example, a house fire displaces a family, part of the arrangement is that ARC can bring them here instead of to an office," he says. "Our training room is isolated, so they can be left alone, and we have multiple bunkrooms. In a worst-case scenario, until the family finds shelter, they can have privacy here, as well as a shower and bathroom and a place to sleep."
The unique relationship has been publicized in local newspapers, says Pressler, and he's looking forward to doing a piece on the local cable network news. He's also putting together a presentation for local government officials so they're fully aware of the capabilities and exactly what's involved. "To this day, EMS has never been fully acknowledged for its ability to serve citizens during times of need," he says. "It's up to us in the EMS community to help our citizens and government officials see who we are and how important our existence is. This partnership was an opportunity to expose our organization in a positive light and bring more attention to EMS. If we can do that in other ways than providing lifesaving treatment, so be it."