Vending Machines To Help Tulsa Fire Save Money On Medical Supplies

Tuesday, August 25th 2015, 11:22 pm
By: News On 6

Vending machines will soon be installed in several Tulsa Fire Stations, but they won't be carrying chips and candy. Instead, they'll have medical supplies.

Fire department officials said it will save them 30 to 40 percent off their normal medical supply costs.

One of the new vending machines will be at Station 22. It will be linked with all the other machines and essentially save taxpayers money and firefighters time.

From a distance, the vending machines look like they could be filled with an afternoon snack; but what comes out is definitely not edible, it's critical medical supplies.

“If there is an incident overnight and a critical piece of equipment is needed, whether it breaks or it's used on a patient, they will be able to get it immediately," said Chief of EMS for the Tulsa Fire Department, Michael Baker.

The vending machines will be at five stations throughout the city, meaning every station will have medical supplies close-by.

"Currently our staff members deliver directly to each of the 30 fire stations in the city. That takes time, vehicle mileage, gas," Baker said.

Tulsa Fire Department paramedic, Jon Morton said this new system will be an improvement compared to how supplies are stored now.

"This is taking up space, time, effort to try and keep up with," he said.

Soon, the electronic vending machine will be added, allowing each firefighter to enter a number and then pick what supplies they need - the items range from Band-Aids to medical cables, which are $800.

"We also understand the value of healthcare dollars and we want to make sure we are good stewards of the public’s money," Baker said.

He said electronically tracking all the supplies will save the department 30 to 40 percent on medical expenses.

"Everything from the truck check that the guys do every day to our in house inventory is now tied into the same system with the vending machines," Baker said.

Ensuring trucks are stocked with everything needed to respond to the next emergency.

The machines will also keep track of expiration dates and be climate controlled.

They are expected to be delivered to stations in the next few weeks.

The machines cost $72,000 to purchase, but the department expects the savings to be well worth the expense.