An area fire department has received federal funds that will help protect firefighters and save lives.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded a $76,343 Assistance to Firefighters Grant to the Guthrie Fire Department, Fire Chief Eric Harlow said. The money will be used to purchase protective gear for firefighters and life-saving medical equipment for the department’s ambulances, Harlow said.
Specifically, the funds will allow the purchase of firefighting ensembles for all of the department’s firefighters for use in combating wild land and grass fires, Harlow said. Each firefighter will be equipped with special lightweight coats and pants, boots, helmets and gloves, Harlow said.
This gear is much lighter and lets the firefighter stay cooler, especially in the late summer wild fire season when daytime temperatures normally exceed 100 degrees, Harlow said.
Harlow said cardiac issues account for the majority of line-of-duty injuries and death in the fire service.
“Heat stress during firefighting operations is a common problem encountered by firefighting personnel and we try to do anything we can to keep them more comfortable and make their job easier and safer,” Harlow said.
The funds will also allow the purchase of 12-lead heart monitors with built-in blood pressure monitoring and pulse oximetry for the department’s ambulances, Harlow said.
The monitors will greatly enhance the department’s emergency medical technicians’ abilities to diagnose and treat medical conditions in the field, Harlow said.
Being able to recognize cardiac issues early in a medical emergency will enable appropriate treatment to be administered or requested, Harlow said. It will also ensure the patient is transported to the most appropriate medical facility, he said.
“This is a huge hurdle that we have cleared in our department’s goal of becoming a Paramedic Life Support agency,” Harlow said. “The capital outlay involved in purchasing these monitors was a huge hindrance to this goal and now, thanks to the federal government, we’ve cleared that obstacle.”
Nationally, the federal grants, which will be distributed in phases, will ultimately provide about $285 million to fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical service organizations throughout the country.
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