The Elks Club Assists the Rutherford First-Aid Ambulance Corps
Updated: Dec 22, 2020
By Jennifer Ersalesi
Photo credit: Borough of Rutherford Facebook page
Since the start of the pandemic, the Rutheford First-Aid Ambulance Corps has spent a lot of time learning how to safely care for all patients who may or may not be carrying the COVID-19 virus. An important part of their daily activities has been proper disinfection of their ambulances and ambulance equipment. The Elks Club of Rutherford wanted to find a way to help the Ambulance Corps members who have been working extremely hard to keep our community members safe while providing medical attention. After the Elks Club learned more about the needs of the Ambulance Corps, they decided to donate a vital disinfection system. This is Rutherford recently spoke with Exalted Ruler of the Elks Club, Donna Hild, and Captain of the Ambulance Corps, Michael Tarantino, about the Elks donation of the Lantern UV Disinfection System.
TIR: How was the Elks club able to purchase this Lantern System for the Rutherford First-Aid Ambulance Corps?
Donna Hild: The Elks National Foundation offers grant opportunities to local lodges to help support community charitable giving. Every year we apply for several different grants. When applying for the grants we need to specify exactly what the funds will be used for. This Grant was the Beacon Grant for $3500
TIR: How did you know that this system was something that would be beneficial for the Ambulance Corps?
DH: We knew the grant was available to us and wanted to find an organization in town that we thought would benefit the most at this time. With the increased cases of COVID-19 in town, we thought the Ambulance Corps could use our help. I reached out to Mike Tarantino who told us of a few items they were in need of. The Lantern was an item that they felt they could really use to protect themselves as well as patients they transport in the ambulances.
TIR: Systems such as these tend to be expensive, so receiving this as a gift must have been much appreciated. Was this system something the Ambulance Corps was looking to purchase?
MT: In April during the first wave of the pandemic, the ambulance Corp purchased the Lantern to help disinfect our ambulances. As the numbers of COVID patients that we have transported continues to increase, the second Lantern will allow us to disinfect both ambulances and the squad room as necessary.
TIR: Can you explain more about how the Lantern UV Disinfection System works?
Michael Tarantino: The Lantern is a portable Ultra-Violet light disinfectant system used to safely control the spread of SARS-COV-2 and other common pathogens.
TIR: Who will be trained to use the system?
MT: All squad officers and the majority of the squad membership are trained to use the Lantern. This allows the Lantern to be used at least once per shift and after any COVID-related ambulance call.
TIR: As COVID numbers rise again, how is the Ambulance Corps working to meet the challenges of keeping both your squad members and those you assist safe?
MT: We take the necessary precautions very seriously. On every ambulance call, our members wear their personal protective equipment (PPE) that was recommended by the New Jersey State Department of Health, such as N95’s, eye protection, gloves, and gowns (as necessary). We have upgraded our N95 mask to half-face respirators, with a higher quality filter. To make sure the half-face respirators fit appropriately all members have been fit tested following PEOSH regulations.
After each call, the ambulances are disinfected by using a fogging disinfectant system. We wipe down the inside of the ambulance and all equipment used and use the Lantern when necessary. Additionally, the Ambulance Corp purchased a washer and dryer to allow our members to wash their uniforms when needed to avoid bringing contaminated uniforms home.
We ask for our resident’s help, that when they call for an ambulance, the patient should have a mask on along with everyone on the premises. If the patient is able to walk outside safely, we would like them to meet us at the door to reduce our exposure time inside the location.
Ambulance Corps Member, Catherine O'Keefe, explained, "While multiple layers of precaution were already being taken during and after patient care to mitigate virus spread, the Lantern UV Disinfection System provides us with an additional final layer of our protection. Keeping our patients and crews safe has always been paramount. Now, during these unprecedented times, ensuring safety is a greater challenge so it is reassuring to have this highly effective technology available to us."
TIR: As the Exalted Ruler of the Elks, how does it feel to be able to provide the town’s Ambulance Corps with such valuable equipment during this health crisis?
DH: I'm so proud to be a part of an organization that gives back to our community. Our members are committed to serving others and spend countless hours fundraising and volunteering their time. I have a truly dedicated team allowing us to continue to be successful this year. Being able to help organizations in need during these difficult times is truly very rewarding.
TIR: What are some other ways the Elks Club has given back to the community over the last six months or so?
DH: Through the receipt of several other grants and our fundraising efforts we have been able to provide between $250-300 a month in requested food items for the Food Pantry this year. We also received the Spotlight Grant which allowed us to donate $1000 in ShopRite gift cards to the Food Pantry for the Holiday season. We created and delivered Snack Boxes to the staff at St. Mary's Hospital and also for the Ambulance Corps. The Elks have also supported the Boy Scouts Eagle Award and the Girl Scout Gold and Silver Award Scouts. We presented $5000 in scholarships to our local High School Students in June.