Thursday, June 16, 2022
LAUREL, MD – Having its own independent ambulance service, considered a rarity among U.S. thoroughbred racetracks, enabled the Maryland Jockey Club to quickly and effectively respond to a call for help from its elderly community.
The MJC was among several companies that answered a request sent out by the Maryland State Office of Commercial Ambulances Licensing & Regulation in the early morning hours of June 14 following an explosion and resulting fire at the Larkin Chase Center senior care facility in Bowie, Md.
Located about 35 minutes southeast of Laurel Park, where live racing is currently being conducted during a 37-day summer meet that began June 3, the Larkin Chase Center had 112 displaced residents that needed to be moved from an emergency holding area located in a city gymnasium across the street from the facility.
Ryan Allen, a licensed paramedic and the MJC’s Director of Health & Safety, and MJC emergency medical technician Tony Posinski staffed the ambulance that was dispatched and ultimately able to move three individuals to nearby facilities.
“Most tracks contract with AMR [American Medical Response] to provide ambulance service for them. We don’t contract with anybody. We run our own in-house ambulances. We own it, I operate it, and we’re registered with the state. We comply with all of the exact same rules as the commercial ambulance companies,” Allen said. “This call came out, and we had an ambulance available.”
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Allen said eight commercial ambulance companies from around the state, including the MJC, responded to the call.
“The initial response was to get the residents out of that building, because they didn’t know how bad the damage to the building was,” Allen said. “It was really easy to move the residents into that gymnasium and hold them there, but obviously they can’t stay there very long. The call came out at about 7 a. m. and we had a unit there at about 10:30, which was pretty standard with all the responding units.”
The MJC has an ambulance on the track during each of its live race days, which run Fridays through Sundays during the ongoing summer meet. The next live program is Friday, June 17.
In his eighth year with the MJC, Allen said that Maryland is somewhat unique in that its ambulances are not regulated by the Department of Health as in most states, but report to a distinct governing body, the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems.
“The idea was that we had the resources, we had the availability, and it was really fortunate that we were able to help get those people out and get them re-housed within about five hours,” he said. “We were able to provide some relief to them and their loved ones. We explained we were there to take care of them, get them re-housed to a temporary situation and get them safe and comfortable. I’m very glad that we were able to help them out with that. It was really easy for the MJC to be able to do it.”