Emergency services group seeking grant

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— Emergency services provider in Routt County seek state funds to upgrade equipment and develop comprehensive plans for major air disasters.

County commissioners Tuesday agreed to send a letter of support to the Emergency Medical Services division of the Colorado Department of Health, endorsing the application for various grant funds to be used by a council of emergency service providers in Routt County.

Participants include chairman Bryan Rickman, chief of the West Routt Fire Protection district; Drew Hartman, Routt Memorial Hospital’s chief executive officer; Chuck Vale, the county’s emergency services director; Smokey Slaven, captain of the Steamboat ambulance service; Guy Loughridge, of Routt County Search & Rescue; and Bobbie Vetter, secretary to the local Emergency Medical Services Council.

The group told commissioners Tuesday of deficiencies in existing emergency communications, and a request for $44,000 as part of the grant application.

The council hopes to hire a consultant to determine the most cost-effective upgrade. The purchase of 10 radios next year, and exploration of a new system. While technically sound, the existing system is cumbersome, lacks operating procedures and manuals, and is not entirely compatible with other state medical communication systems, according to a plan by Larry McNatt, director of the state EMS division.

“It’s never worked as well as it could have or should have,” Vetter said.

“It’s not reliable enough for ambulance-to-hospital communication,” Rickman said.

We enjoy working with this dedicated group,” Hartman said. “if there’s something we can do, we will.”

Search and Rescue seeks $15,000, of which $5,000 would be a local in-kind match, for addressing impacts and the best procedure to handle a major airplane crash in Routt County.

Loughridge said the project would include creation of equipment and medical caches throughout the county, as well as a comprehensive assessment of impact to the county in the event of such a crash. He noted the impacts of the major crash in Sioux City, Iowa, including the influx of thousands of people.

“Looking at the expanding nature of the problem shows (the crash) is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.

Meanwhile, Colorado officials are drafting emergency preparedness strategies for mountain towns, where airplanes loaded with skiers often pack airports but resources for coping with disaster are limited.

“I think being prepared is as important as having supplies,” Vale said. “Hopefully, through the course of the summer, we’ll be able to put this together.”

Slaven said a grant request of $48,000 would enable the ambulance service to upgrade its vehicles to include medical equipment helpful in the field.

Rickman said the state EMS division has looked favorably on Routt County’s EMS council and for more than three years has granted funds. The state admires the cooperation of different agencies, he said.

“Our county’s EMS council is one of the most respected in the state,” Rickman said.

The state grants are awarded July 1.

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