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Sean Norton, an Ambulance Service of Manchester operations supervisor, talks to visitors during ASM’s 60th anniversary celebration Tuesday. (Jesse Leavenworth/The Hartford Courant)
From a single “hearse-style” wagon and a crew of three in 1959, Ambulance Service of Manchester has grown to 190 employees and 30 ambulances serving the area from East Hartford to Stafford Springs.
On Tuesday, police officers and firefighters who work with the mobile medical crews joined other visitors at ASM’s cavernous headquarters on New State Road to celebrate the company’s 60th anniversary.
Paramedics and emergency medical technicians stood by to describe ambulance and equipment displays. ASM has updated its fleet with new Mercedes vans, replacing box-style ambulances. Four of the new vehicles are longer and sturdier, equipped to lift and transport patients who weigh up to 750 pounds. ASM also recently acquired two “stair chairs,” which allow crews to more easily carry patients up and down stairs. Along with heavier patients, ASM crews also have been dealing with an increase in drug overdoses and mentally ill patients, officials said.
Paramedic Chris Myska demonstrates a medication injection in ASM’s training room. (Jesse Leavenworth/The Hartford Courant)
ASM and Aetna Ambulance Service are sister companies headed by president and CEO Kim Aroh. Asked about the companies’ biggest challenges today, Aroh cited operating costs, such as the recent $300,000 expense to equip all ambulances with digital radios. The companies strive for modest growth each year, she said, but reimbursement rates from Medicare and Medicaid have been flat for a decade.
Besides maintaining equipment and keeping up with changes in life-saving technology, another priority, Aroh said, is to encourage workers’ participation in fun events such as a polar plunge fundraiser _ which benefits the community and the employees. Ambulance crews, she noted, regularly have to handle traumatic scenes.
“They see so many tough things,” Aroh said.
Visitors and ASM employees at the celebration inside the company’s headquarters on New State Road. (Jesse Leavenworth/The Hartford Courant)
ASM started as Manchester Ambulance with three men _ J. Stewart Johnston, Thomas Carpenter and Roger Talbot Sr. _ who were based at a local auto dealership, according to its website _ www.ambulanceservicemanchester.com. The outfit moved to a three-bay garage at 134 Center St. in 1969 and its territory expanded to include East Hartford and Bolton.
Today, company spokesman Patrick Gleason said, ASM and Aetna serve about 1.2 million people.
Jesse Leavenworth can be reached at email@example.com