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Assistant EMS Chief Joe Gemza had just unboxed one of the ventilators on Thursday. (Metro Wire photo)

State delivers portable ventilators, part of new stewardship program, to SPFD

By Brandi Makuski

The Stevens Point Fire Department has taken receipt of four brand new portable ventilators through a new state program designed to help municipalities weather the storm of COVID-19.

The VOCSN-pro is a portable ventilator ideal for use on COVID-19 patients and is being made available to fire/EMS departments, hospitals, and clinics across the state through the Portage Ventilators Stewardship Program.

“As the current COVID-19 pandemic ramped up in early 2020, the State of Wisconsin Emergency Operations Center quickly purchased a large number of portable ventilator units in an effort to be ready for an anticipate surge in patients needing ventilation,” a press release from the state’s Department of Health reads in part.

As a result, the EOC purchased 1,500 of the units. They are being distributed at no cost for departments that request them, and device maintenance is covered by the state.

Assistant EMS Chief Joe Gemza said he received four of the units on Wednesday.

“They just started handing them out—I literally just took it out of the box,” Gemza said, indicating one of the ventilators sitting on his desk. The other three remained in boxes in his office at SPFD.

The units are on loan from the state, but Gemza said they will come in handy should any area hospital need an extra ventilator during the pandemic.

“We’ve just gone through one of the worst parts of the pandemic—we might be heading back into it, but we didn’t need them before,” he said.

As of Sept. 17, Portage Co. has seen 84 confirmed COVID-19 fatalities, with a total of 407 having been hospitalized during the pandemic. Twenty-two new cases of COVID-19 were identified last week.

The county has 204 active cases of the virus, about three percent of its total confirmed caseload, according to the county’s COVID dashboard.