Med Transport Inc. has been working on COVID Deployments across the U.S.

EASTERN OREGON – A number of local medics have been deployed to a number of areas across the United States to assist with COVID Units recently.  Chris Arvidson owner of Med Transport Inc., in Eastern Oregon says they have around 45 Paramedics and a handful of EMT’s that they can deploy. 

One of those medics, Bruce Cheeseman (BC) of La Grande, was able to sit and speak with Elkhorn Media Group (EMG) about these deployments.  

(EMG) Would mind introducing yourself and giving me a little of your background as a medic?

(BC) My name is Bruce Cheeseman. I have been a paramedic for, this is my 34th year as a medic. I’ve done a bunch of stuff, I started out with a fire department, and I went to a police department where I was a police medic, and I went to state police and I flew as a trooper and a paramedic and then I came out here. I flew as a medic with Life Flight for about nine years and now I work for Chris (Med Transport Inc.) just on deployments and wildfires. I also work for the Union County Sheriff’s Department.

(EMG) You, along with others with Med Transport, have been taking part in COVID Deployments, can you tell me about some of the areas you have been deployed too?

(BC) I went to Southern California to a site called Fairview and it was an overflow center for non-critical COVID patients. It was patients that did need a ventilator, didn’t need ICU care, they did need supportive care, but not extreme care or intensive care.

(EMG) What are some of the things that you handled while you were on deployment? 

(BC) They gave us a patient load; it was really like a nursing position. We would have anywhere from two to five patients ourselves every day, depending on the shift. There were two different shifts. You would come in at 7 a.m. and work for three hours, you were in the “hot zone” for three hours, and then you were out of the hot zone for three hours and then were back in the hot zone for three hours and back out for three hours, this was because of the PPE that you wear and the heat and depending on what shift you were starting on kind of depended what your day was like.

If you were on the 7 a.m. shift for three hours, you would basically come in, check on all your patients, and see how they were doing from the night before.  Then the morning was pretty busy with medication. Everybody got kind of a “COVID Cocktail”.  Most of them would end up with high sugars because they were diabetic, so we’d have to give them insulin several times a day. So, your first shift was pretty busy. You were tied up pretty much the whole morning just giving meds done and patient assessments done. 

If you were on the 10:00 a.m. shift, that was a lot easier, you would get the patient’s up get them walking do chest PT with them, respiratory therapy would come in around that time, they would do Respiratory Care for some of the sicker patients.

Obviously, we did all the meals, we checked blood glucoses during the day and patients would get insulin sometimes three times a day.  I was on the 12-hour day shift, so I don’t really know what the night shift did. 

(EMG) Bruce overall, how would you describe this experience, being involved with these deployments? 

(BC) I’ve been in EMS and Medicine a lot of all my adult career, and it was one of the most unique experiences I’ve ever done. In EMS you’re really short-term care with people, even with Life Flight we were with them for maybe an hour or two because of a long transport, but you’re still only with them for a short period of time and you just kind of do an intensive care and then you’re turning them over to the hospital. You don’t really get to see patient outcomes and to be with patient’s day in and day out. 

For this we had a 21-day deployment, so you were working all 21 days, you worked every single day, and you didn’t get any days off. So, you really got to see a patient that came in really sick all the way through until they get well and got discharged. 

It was really a pretty unique experience for me. I had never done long-term care with patients before it was really cool to be able to see. 

I made friends with two of the patients that were there that I’ve had phone conversations since I’ve been home, just to check up on them and see how they’re doing, and they’ve called me just to say hi, that’s kind of a unique experience for this role. 

(EMG) Is there anything else about these deployments that you think our listeners/followers would be interested in knowing about? 

(BC) You know, uniquely, I think there has been so much press about this virus and the one thing that really surprised me was that almost all patients that I saw had some type of co-morbidity. A lot of obesity. There was a lot of diabetics.  There were a lot of patients that were kind of borderline diabetic. This virus turned them into full-blown diabetics where they are going to be probably taking insulin for the rest of their lives. 

I didn’t see many young people, and the young people that I did see, they were more on the obese scale, it was mostly older people and the people that were in the younger group, we had a few people that were in their 40s and 50s, they didn’t get as sick, and they came out of it quicker and did well and made a full recovery. And I just think that it was really interesting to watch that because we have seen so much press on it. You don’t know what to believe and what you’ll see, and it was really interesting. 

(EMG) Any last thoughts or comments?

(BC) I do want to say a thank you to the Union County Sheriff’s Office for letting me go.  I was gone for almost a month and they were very supportive of being able to do that, since I am sort of in a dual role working there and as a medic. 

(EMG) Thank you Bruce for taking the time to speak with us today and share your experiences. 

Chris Arvidson gave some information on some of the people they have had involved in these COVID Deployments. 

“Our Ambulance service currently has Paramedics and EMTs in CA, TX, MD, WI, NJ and Washington DC. We have a pool of 45 Paramedics and a hand full of EMTs that we can deploy throughout the county. We have changed the services offered by our service and have been fortunate to send out the experienced personnel to represent our community and our service throughout the Country. We have Medics working in COVID step-down units, COVID infusion centers, and at mass vaccination sites. We have a few local paramedics out on deployments or are currently out on a deployment. Our local Medics reside in Pendleton, La Grande, Baker City, and Enterprise. Some of our Medics have done multiple deployments of 15-30 days and some have been out for over 90 days. 

We are lucky to have our Paramedic Bruce Cheeseman of La Grande offer up his services. He has worked fires, transports, and disaster relief deployments with our service. He has been a flight medic most of his life retiring from the Maryland State Police as a Flight Medic. After his retirement he worked as a flight medic in McCall, ID, for seven years. He currently works for the Union Co. Sheriff Department and our service. We are thankful that the Union Co. Sheriff department could accommodate Bruce’s deployment request with our service.    

Sean Cariss of Enterprise has worked on Fires and disaster relief assignments with our service. I spent a good part of October on an ambulance with him in Central Oregon. He’s a competent Paramedic and is currently finishing up his Critical Care certifications while on deployments.

Paramedic Nick Cripe spent a month out on deployment while he was trying to transition into a Fire Paramedic position in Eastern Oregon. He was working at Appliances and More in Baker City when Owner Jay Wilson a former Paramedic with Med Transport said that “Med Transport is sending Paramedics throughout the Country on disaster relief assignments I can hook you up with Chris if you’re interested.” Nick was deployed a day later to Atlantic City.

Mark Lewis is a recently retired Fire Fighter Paramedic from Pendleton. He was interested in working fires with our service when a disaster relief deployment opportunity became available. He was ready to jump on board and head out across the country to the unknown. He has been out since Feb 2nd. “

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