Wampanoag tribe provides two life saving machines for Tri-Town ambulances

Tribal Council members presented the Lucas CPR devices to Tri-Town Ambulance representatives and town representatives on October 5. Top left to right: Steven Craddock, William. Durwood Vanderhoop (council secretary), Keith Marden, Bret Stearns (natural resource director), Leigh Moreis, Willard Marden, Naomi Carney Bottom Left to Right: Jason Baird (Medicine Man), Stephanie White (council treasurer), Shelly Carter, Beverly Wright (selectman), Zeke Wilkins (Tri-town ambulance chief), Cheryl Andrews-Maltais (tribe chairman), Ben Retmier, Randhi Belain (Aquinnah Chief of Police), Richard Randolph (council vice chairman), Chief Ryan Malonson . Not pictured: Jonathan Perry. — Photo courtesy of Wampanaog Trib

The Tri-town ambulance service, which provides emergency medical services for the towns of Aquinnah, Chilmark, and West Tisbury, now has two new Lucas ™ automated chest compression system units for its ambulance fleet, courtesy of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah).

Tribal officials announced Tuesday an agreement with Tri-town to make the units, purchased through a grant program, available.

“This essential lifesaving equipment will provide consistent, effective and uninterrupted chest compressions on a patient, allowing rescuers to focus on other lifesaving skills,” said Bret Stearns, Director of the Natural Resource Department and an EMT. “Tri-Town Ambulance Service currently utilizes one of these units, shared by all three ambulances. This agreement will now provide 24/7 access to a Lucus ™ CPR device in both the Aquinnah and Chilmark ambulances, making all three ambulances equipped.”

Tribal rangers are trained as emergency medical technicians and also serve as volunteers for the Tri-Town ambulance service.

In October 2012, the tribe secured funding to purchase two CPR devices through the Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs Law Enforcement program, according to a press release. This funding, specific to tribal law enforcement agencies, awarded the tribe $24,800 for the purchase of the two units.

The goal of the tribe was to provide equipment to the tribal membership and local community which enhances the survival rate in a cardiac event, according to a press release. The agreement continues the efforts of the tribe to enhance the emergency response capabilities of the ambulance service.

Over the years, the tribe has taken advantage of government programs and grants to provide much-needed equipment. The tribe noted that in 2004, it donated an ambulance to Tri-Town, reducing the time a patient is received at the hospital by over 30 percent. In 2008, the tribe donated a replacement ambulance, which is currently parked in Aquinnah. The tribe and town also share the use of an emergency response vessel, which was dispatched in August for a near drowning incident.

“Aside from agreements and equipment, the Tribe’s Natural Resources Department has become an important component of emergency responses in the community,” said chairman Cheryl Andrews-Maltais.

“The tribe supports the salary and training of their full-time rangers to assure public safety. The tribe also contributes over $10,000 annually to the town to support the emergency services of our community. We are very happy to be able to add our tribal resources to help improve the public safety for the Island community. We look forward to further collaborations to find areas where the tribe is in a position to assist in the improvement of all our public safety capabilities. We are proud of these efforts and appreciate the support from the towns of Aquinnah, Chilmark and West Tisbury with this shared concern.”