Secure your most precious cargo ahead of holiday travel

November 15, 2018

We are again offering free Child Safety Seat Checks for parents in the area before they travel for the Thanksgiving holiday. Child safety seats greatly reduce the risks of fatal injury in infants and toddlers riding in motor vehicles, according the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. You should always buckle your child into the right car seat for their age and size.

Nearly 4 our of 5 car seats are used incorrectly.

Is yours one of them? Having a child seat installed incorrectly could put your child at risk. Get your seat inspected by a Certified Child Seat Safety Technician. You can have your child car seats, harnesses, and booster seats checked for safety and fit prior to your Thanksgiving travels. Come make sure your most precious cargo is secure! The Richmond Ambulance Authority, AAA-Mid Atlantic, and Richmond Fire Department will be at Target, 7107 Forest Hill Avenue in Richmond on Monday, November 19th from 3:00pm-5:00pm and at the Walmart Supercenter, 2410 Sheila Lane in Richmond from 3:00pm-5:00pm on Tuesday, November 20th.

Our Certified Child Safety Technicians will be on site to answer questions, check recalls, and assist with making sure your seat is correctly installed. We want to ensure all children are protected with properly installed seats. Parents are strongly encouraged to bring their children to the event. The technicians need to see how the child will fit in their car seat.

Here are a few additional tips all drivers should keep in mind when it comes to child seat safety.

  • Use a car seat every time your child rides in a motor vehicle.
  • If you’re transferring your seat to a different car, refer to that car’s manual for specific installation directions.
  • Keep your child in a rear-facing seat as long as possible—it’s the safest traveling position.
  • Size, not age, should be the key factor in moving your child to the next seat type.
  • The back seat is the safest place in your vehicle for a child to ride for age 12 years old and under.

RAA CEO Explains when to take Ambulance vs Uber/Lyft to the hospital

November 13, 2018

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – You’re in an emergency and need to get to the hospital. What do you do? An ambulance is the obvious answer, but it may no longer be the most popular.

Alane Cameron Ford does a lot of waiting for a ride to work. She’s a hospice chaplain and bereavement counselor working at hospitals across Central Virginia. But she’s temporarily unable to drive because of a medical condition.

“I have to use Uber and Lyft services to go and see my patients,” Ford said. “I use it all the time. Sometimes I’ll see four or five drivers a day.”

But lately, those drivers picking her up are a little more cautious.

“They think that I need to go to the hospital as a patient and so sometimes I have trouble getting a ride,” Ford said. “I know you’re out there and yet it will still say searching, searching, searching and finally when I do get a driver, the driver will come and they’ll look at me very carefully.”

Ford is seeing the side effects of a new phenomenon. According to this study by a University of Kansas professor and a San Diego doctor, there’s been a 7 percent drop in ambulance calls since Uber started up in hundreds of U.S. cities.

“There’s is not too much out here that I have not seen,” says Richmond-area Uber and Lyft driver Kirkland Charity Jr.

He’s been picking up passengers for nearly three years.

“I’ve probably done about a dozen trips,” Charity said.

He said he’s noticed an increase in the number of people he’s taking to hospitals for an emergency.

“It started out as just the flu, you know, flu-related stuff. College students that were out of the area. Then it got to a little bit more serious,” Charity said. “One where the young lady was in labor. That one made me really nervous.”

Kirkland says the reason for these calls for rides to the hospital is pretty clear – cost.

A Chesterfield man showed us his recent ambulance bills from Chesterfield Fire and EMS. He had two seizures and each time was taken to hospital in an ambulance. The first bill was for $624. The second trip was for $540.

“An ambulance is not just a vehicle,” Ford said. “An ambulance is a vehicle with highly trained personnel, equipment, medicine that can save your life.”

Chip Decker, CEO of Richmond Ambulance Authority, said in some cases, taking a ride-sharing service can be OK. However, certain situations require the service only an ambulance can provide.

“It’s the difference between being a passenger and being a patient,” Decker said. “In some cases it’s totally appropriate. Maybe they can go to a hospital, maybe they can go to urgent care or even their doctor. It’s an easy option when it’s not a true emergency. If you don’t know what’s going on, if it’s trauma, if it’s heart, if it’s head, you know, if it’s an altered level of consciousness, your ambulance is probably your best bet.”

As for Ford, she’ll keep waiting for her Ubers and Lyfts to work.

“I will continue to get weird looks every time I ask to go the hospital,” Ford said.

Ride-hailing services free up emergency vehicles for those who need it the most. But if you have any doubt, any level of concern about your health emergency, trained professionals in an ambulance could save your life.

This article originally appeared on

RAA Discusses use of Narcan to combat opioid epidemic

November 8, 2018

RICHMOND, Va. — First responders have administered the life saving drug Narcan to an increasing number of overdose patients within the past few months, according to new numbers released by Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA).

Paramedics used naloxone on 64 patients in the City of Richmond in July 2018.

In August, the drug was administered to 121 patients who were believed to be overdosing.

That number rose to 130 patients in September 2018, according to the data.

Naloxone is a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose (i.e. prescription pain medication or heroin). When administered, the drug, also known by its generic name Narcan, blocks the effects of opioids on the brain and restores breathing within two to eight minutes.

Within the past few years, first responders administered Narcan to a growing number of individuals in order to revive them.

Narcan was used on 702 overdosing patients in 2016. That number climbed to more than 900 last year.

From January through October of this year, the life saving drug was administered to nearly 800 people.

“That’s scary in one city. That’s startling,” said RAA Capt. Wes Wampler. “It likely would be a poor prognosis for them without Narcan being on the ambulances and not readily available.”

It’s unclear whether the individuals who were given naloxone survived. The reason for the recent uptick is also not known.

Numerous state and federal lawmakers have called the issue an epidemic.

More than 1,200 people in Virginia died of opioid overdoses in 2017. One hundred of those fatal overdoses were in the Richmond area, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

In September, Governor Ralph Northam announced the state received a $15.8 million grant to combat the opioid crisis.

VCU professor Dr. Marshall Brooks, who studies opioids and its affect on communities, described the act of overdosing as eerily peaceful.

“It’s a calm drug. That’s the deadliness of it that people don’t know they’re overdosing until they essentially just go to sleep. They stop breathing and that’s how you die,” Brooks described.

He witnessed firsthand an overdose on a busy West Broad Street block on a sunny Monday afternoon. The professor and father first noticed a crowd of people attempting to resuscitate the man who wasn’t breathing.

“The man was near death’s door. [Onlookers] were saying he wasn’t breathing,” Brooks remembered.

The overdosing man was seen on surveillance video inside of a nearby convenience store collapsing near the refrigerators, according to sources.

Luckily, a drug store is nearby the store where the man collapsed.

“The pharmacist administered it before the EMTs arrived so they were effectively the first responder, which was wonderful,” Brooks stated.

Brooks said more often than not an individual overdosing on drugs is alone.

“Because it was at a 1:30 on a Monday afternoon and downtown the man lived,” he described. “Most of those overdoses happen behind close doors in the dark by yourself and there’s no one to see you.”

This story originally appeared on

Richmond Ambulance Authority Expands Peer Support Programs

September 6, 2018

Recently Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) staff members were led by James Hyde with Peer Support Central as he helped come up with ways to build RAA’s Peer Support team and teach a train the trainer course. Hyde has over 30 years experience. He has been a peer, directed Peer Support programs, and worked with first responders and military around the world as they built their own Peer Support programs.

RAA’s Peer Support program will help its providers cope with day to day stress both at work and at home. The well-being of RAA’s providers is a top priority and the Peer Support program is aimed at helping the organization achieve that goal. Stress related illnesses are 10 times higher in the first responder community than they are in the general population. While that has been recognized, many agencies do not have any resources for their providers beyond an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). By creating a Peer Support team RAA is doing more.

RAA already has a Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team in place. CISM sessions are used to help staff members after a traumatic event such as a Mass Casualty Incident (MCI), a line of duty death, or pediatric death. CISM staff members help their co-workers work through their feelings and cope with those feelings after such an incident.

The Peer Support team will be an additional tool RAA can use to help its employees deal with stress and traumatic experiences. The organization will be increasing awareness through continuing education.

Richmond Ambulance Authority and Richmond SPCA launch “Pets for Paramedics”

August 31, 2018

On Friday, August 31, the Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) and the Richmond SPCA launched a new program called “Pets for Paramedics.” The program is designed to help EMS providers relieve stress through regular interaction with pets from the Richmond SPCA. The idea actually originated during a conversation with paramedic Danielle Geronimo on a ride-along.

“I have an affinity for pets. Love cats, love dogs, love all animals,” said Geronimo.  “I thought it would be great for both the animals and for the patients and for us if we could maybe have a dog on an ambulance.”

While the logistics of putting dogs on ambulances would obviously be complex, RAA staff considered another way to incorporate animals into the work environment. Eventually the “Pets for Paramedics” program was created. On Friday kittens Lemonade, Kombucha and Smoothie along with dogs Magoo and Bernie came for the first visit with RAA staff as part of the “Pets for Paramedics” program.

The Richmond SPCA will bring pets to RAA headquarters once a month for one hour. RAA staff will get a chance to interact with pets awaiting adoption while also providing exposure to help these pets find homes.

“I have seen firsthand the positive impact an animal can have on people in stressful environments,” said RAA CEO Chip Decker. “The partnership between our organization and our neighbors at the Richmond SPCA is a perfect fit.”

According to studies, EMS providers are frequently exposed to traumatic events which can lead to high levels of workplace stress. The partnership allows RAA to continue its dedication to providing a healthy work environment for EMTs and Paramedics.

“We see lots of things that most average people don’t see on a daily basis,” said Geronimo. “It’s going to be great for all of our providers to take a break from their day and to be able to give some love and maybe find these animals some good homes.”

Research on the human-animal bond has demonstrated the benefits pets can have on a person’s mental, social and physical health.

“Incorporating animals into their workday is a terrific way for RAA to invest in the wellbeing of their employees,” said Robin Robertson Starr, chief executive officer of the Richmond SPCA. “We are delighted that our neighbors at RAA appreciate the role of the Richmond SPCA in the community and value the great comfort and support that animals bring to the lives of people who are feeling stress.”

“This is absolutely amazing. I mean it’s amazing how one little idea can turn into this big event and now it’s going to be a monthly thing,” said Geronimo. “These dogs and cats here just need some good homes and it’s great exposure for them. It’s good love for them. They need it, and we need it too.”

The public will be able to see “Pets for Paramedics” featured on the RAA website and social media, and those interested in adopting may contact the Richmond SPCA.