2017-08-10 / Community

EMS director discusses grant opportunities

By Cindy Centofanti
Staff Writer • ccentofanti@mihomepaper.com

HURON COUNTY - One grant opportunity was discussed to prepare the county in the wake of a disaster while another one was approved according to local emergency responder director.

9-1-1/EMS Director Randy Miller announced the Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant program has been a topic of discussion at recent planning commission meetings.

The grant opportunity is something Miller, along with Building and Zoning Director Jeff Smith, will have to discuss further with Spicer Group to develop a plan on how and if it is possible for the application process to begin. Part of the question is whether Spicer’s contract covers this work and how it will best make sense timewise and economy wise to proceed.

The Hazard Mitigation planning is a process used by local government to identify risks and vulnerabilities associated with natural disasters and develop mitigation strategies to reduce or eliminate long-term risks. Possible examples of Hazard Mitigation projects funded by FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant programs could entail elevations and safe rooms.

“Were going to continue to explore it to see how much money we can save because I think we have an obligation to save the citizen’s money during this grant process,” Miller said. “It is their tax dollars going to Washington, and we are just trying to get them back.”

He hopes by the end of the month at the next regularly scheduled Board of Commissioner’s meeting, himself along with Smith, will have developed better answers as to how they should continue with the grant process.

In other disaster preparedness planning,

Miller said the mass causality grant was approved by the state - a $30,000 grant, which is going to provide medical supplies in case of a disaster in the county.

“This is specifically bleeding control,” Miller explained. “Which entails tourniquets and blood clot control.”

He said training will be a necessary step in order for the kits to be distributed throughout the county. Ideally, he added, he would like to see local EMS personnel distribute these kits while simultaneously offering training for those interested to become first responders.

Miller added although the grant was approved, he is still seeking bids from companies “willing to take the bait” in order to get an expected cost of each individual kit. He said he has seen some as expensive as $400 and others as low as $175.

“The kits will go into every school building, fire truck and police car, county building along with a few other designated locations in the county as well,” Miller elaborated.

The 9-1-1/EMS director also brought to the forefront the ongoing problem of a shortage with licensed medical personal and hope that this will offer some help if needed.

“We talked about the lack of EMTs and the lack of medical people in the county that we have and it’s not gotten a whole lot better lately,” Miller said. “At least this way we have first responders who will be able to go in and keep people alive long enough until someone else gets there.”

Related to the work of first responders, the paging tower next to WLEW Thumb Broadcasting will be taken down and a new one will be put in its place to help improve the signal during heightened times of traffic in the Upper Thumb such as the Cheeseburger Festival in Caseville, which starts this weekend and draws an estimated 80,000 crowd.

Miller said it is especially crucial to make sure the signal is running exceptionally well in the unfortunate case an emergency occurs and a responder would need to be dispatched.

He further announced to the board the company putting up the tower will not allow Thumb Radio on the tower or near the tower while the company is doing the work, due to liability and insurance reasons.

“The company that was contracted will put the new tower up, put our paging antenna on the tower, run all of the cabling down and when they are getting ready to take the other tower down, during the same time frame, all they will have to do is take the old antenna down on the paging tower, which will be running while they are doing it, and screw the new one in,” Miller said explaining the process.

He added there is only an expected hour or less of down time while the company is putting the new tower up.

“We should be able to keep the paging up with maybe a little less than an hour of down time, which is our main concern because Cheeseburger is going on.” Miller said. “We want to make sure we are still up and running when all of that is going on.”

He said the estimated cost of this repair is between $10,00-$12,000 by the time it’s all done furthermore adding the money allocated for this project will be taken out of the maintenance budget.

“I’m hoping to see some improvement on the other side of the county, but I cannot guarantee it. We have an older paging system, its analog, as opposed to digital,” Miller explained. “There are digital systems out there that we are exploring but they are extraordinarily expensive.”

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