Massive fires don't halt service

Friday, August 24, 2012

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Could you serve your patients if forced to evacuate your location?

That’s a question Jerome La Fontaine, division vice president of operations for Apria, had to answer as fires swept through the western United States in late June and early July. The fires destroyed 346 homes in Colorado Springs and came close enough to Apria’s branch there that ashes and debris landed in the parking lot. 

When employees were told to evacuate, La Fontaine reached out to a local trucking company, Penske Truck Rental, for help getting equipment and files to safety. 

“Penske loaned us three giant trucks and we got most of our assets out,” said La Fontaine. 

Apria set up shop in Penske’s parking lot and conference rooms. Delivery drivers continued to make deliveries. Other Apria employees volunteered at a Red Cross shelter.

“I still can’t believe the amount of work we did,” said La Fontaine. 

Provo, Utah-based Alpine Home Medical worked to ensure patients had what they needed in June when fires that burned more than 750 acres forced the evacuation of nearly 1,000 homes. 

Alpine employees called all of the provider’s affected patients to remind them to take their oxygen if they were evacuated. Many patients were surprised to hear from their HME provider, said site manager Aaron Kendrick.

“A lot of folks hadn’t thought about oxygen,” he said. “Or they thought they could go without it for a night. But you don’t know when you’ll be let back in.”