Ill. Agency Uses $23K to Purchase Equipment
Shelbyville Daily Union, Ill.
Aug. 02—Three local emergency response agencies will soon be getting upgraded gear courtesy of state grants.
Windsor Area Ambulance Service has been awarded $23,800. Sonny Ross, coordinator of the service, said the money will be used to buy a power cot, a stair chair, and batteries.
Ross said the power cot uses battery-run hydraulics to raise and lower patients from the ambulance, saving emergency medical technicians from back injuries they might face using manual cots.
"The major injury EMTs face is back injuries and this will minimize the chances of that greatly," he said.
The stair chair will provide easy, safe descents on staircases, Ross said. Getting an immobile person down a staircase manually can be dangerous for both medical personnel and the patient.
The Windsor Fire Protection District got a grant for $25,908. Ross, a lieutenant for the department, said the grant will buy a heavy duty washing machine, seven sets of turn out gear, and extra gloves.
The specially designed washing machine will remove cancer-causing particles from gear following fire calls. According to the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, firefighters have a 14 percent higher risk of dying from cancer than the general U.S. population.
Ross said some Windsor firefighters have turn out gear that is 10 to 12 years old, more than ready for replacement. That's where the new sets of gear, at a price of $2,500 each, will come in handy.
The Findlay Fire Protection District will get $25,076. Fire Chief Ed Voltenburg said that money will be used to buy new radio equipment. The radios will be used to communicate with other firefighters and dispatchers.
Ross and Voltenburg said the state grants, given through the Small Firefighting and Ambulance Service Equipment Grant Program, were important for the small-town agencies.
"It was real big," Voltenburg said. "We couldn't get the equipment without it. It's hard to shell out so much money at one time."
"It's a huge shot in the arm for both departments," Ross said. "It's expensive to run a fire department and it runs on the backs of taxpayers. But getting a state grant like this spreads the cost."
Ross said the application process for the grants was "absolutely overwhelming" and featured the help of Windsor's city clerk, along with Chris Blythe and Jeff Maxey.
Gov. Bruce Rauner congratulated all the Illinois departments that were awarded.
"Firefighters do not hesitate to put themselves in harm's way to battle fires, to save lives and to keep us safe," he said. "It is our job to ensure they have the equipment needed to stay safe. This grant ensures fire departments are better equipped, allowing first responders to more effectively and safely do their jobs."
State Rep. Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville) said small towns have a tougher time getting well-equipped emergency departments.
"This Small Equipment Grant Program is an important funding source for our rural communities," he said. "When the tax base is smaller than in the big cities, it is a bigger challenge to afford the equipment used by fire and ambulance services. These grants are truly life savers for our area."