As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread through the Salem-Keizer area, Marion County Fire District #1 stepped up in a major way by donating all five of their ventilators to Salem Hospital.

“The strength of our community is not found in individuals or stand-alone organizations, but the way in which we all band together when challenges come our way. Thank you Marion County Fire District for being a partner we can always count on,” said Leilani Slama, Salem Hospital’s Vice President of Community Engagement.

MCFD#1 normally carries ventilators in their ambulances, but fire chief Kyle McMann felt that they were put to better use at Salem Hospital, especially with the number of patients they receive at the hospital that are dealing with COVID-19 symptoms. 

“Ventilators are vital to the healthcare system to assist patients that are not able to breath on their own or have difficulty breathing on their own due to medical conditions, including COVID-19 complications,” McMann said. “There is also concern that the number of ventilators available will not meet demand as the infection rate increases.”

McMann says that the district can still operate effectively and efficiently and that the lack of ventilators won’t have an impact. 

“We are mindful of what our local system needs and we are able to use a bag valve mask ventilation delivery system when patients need us to breathe for them during a relatively short transport to the hospital (15-20 minutes),” McMann said. “But a ventilated patient in the hospital needs hours, days or weeks on a ventilator, so a mechanical means to ventilate is more critical in the hospital. Their need was greater and it does not reduce our services or level of care at all.”

McMann also encourages people to practice social distancing to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and that MCFD#1 plans to continue to serve the community to the best of their ability. 

“Stay home and stay safe, we are flattening the curve and MCFD#1 is prepared to respond to this crisis and have plans in place to provide all services during this time to the community,” McMann said.