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County gives emergency responders a lift

County gives emergency responders a lift County gives emergency responders a lift

Emergency responders in Taylor County will get a boost as members of the county’s law enforcement committee approved purchasing new powered stair chairs for the ambulances.

The chairs are used to assist in bringing patients up and down steps, explains ambulance administrator Jeff Nuernberger. The current chairs were purchased in 2007 and after 13 years of use are breaking down. According to the manufacturer, the expected useable life for the chairs is 10 years. He said this puts both the patients and the emergency medical technicians in danger of injury. He gave the example of an EMT who suffered a muscle tear when a chair slipped resulting in a permanent injury.

“It is getting hard to get people out of their homes,” Nuernberger said, noting there are instances where people live in the basement area and need to be brought upstairs to exit the home.

Nuernberger proposed replacing the stair chairs with a newer model of powered chairs from Ferno, a Wilmington, Ohio based medical equipment firm whose stair chairs are currently being used by the county.

Holly Dietzler of Ferno was at Friday’s law enforcement meeting to demonstrate the chair. Unlike the county’s previous chairs, the new EZ-Glide Stair Chair has a powered option which with the track system supports the weight of the patient and does the work of climbing the stairs without putting strain on the EMT. It is powered by a commercially available Milwaukee M28 battery power pack. According to Dietzler, the chair is rated for up to 500 pounds and can do 20 flights of stairs on a single battery charge and the battery can be swapped out quickly and a new one put in its place.

Holly Dietzler of Ferno was at Friday’s law enforcement meeting to demonstrate the EZ-Glide Stair Chairs. The battery-powered chairs and a track system to transport patients up and down steps without putting strain on ambulance personnel. The chairs will replace 13-year-old manually operated ones currently being used. County committee approves purchase of powered stair chairs for EMTs

The county’s current stair chairs are not powered and instead rely on two EMTs to support the weight while moving patients up and down steps.

Nuernberger said they have an agency willing to purchase the county’s old chairs which will bring the replacement cost to about $25,091 to replace all the existing stair chairs.

Committee member Scott Mildbrand noted the need, but said as a self-described fiscal conservative, he would have preferred more advanced planning and having it brought forward before the county budget was set.

County finance director Larry Brandl explained that as with other ambulance equipment, these are not included in the county budgeting process but instead are purchased out of a separate replacement fund which is replenished through ongoing depreciation payments from the operation of the ambulances. “We pay as we go,” Brandl said.

“From a safety aspect I think this is well worth the cost,” Brandl said.

Committee members agreed and voted to approve the purchase with the money coming from the ambulance replacement account.

Emergency government updates

Taylor County is running out of places to store the bodies of deceased individuals.

County emergency government director Coleen Handrick reported that with a spike in COVID-19 related deaths the local funeral home has reached its maximum capacity. Handrick is working with Marathon County to look at alternatives such as the use of a mobile refrigeration trailer able to hold up to 40 bodies. She noted Marathon County also has an internal storage facility that can hold the bodies of up to 10 individuals. Area emergency plans include contingency plans for incidences such as this.

Handrick reported on ongoing mitigation efforts around the courthouse and in the community to attempt to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Handrick also updated committee members on the status of the state grants that pay for her position. She was quarantined due to two close contacts in her home at the time the application was due. She had contacted her regional director, county human resources and the grant administrator about not being able to get some of the information scanned and submitted by the deadline. She told committee members she was able to get information uploaded into the online grant portal, but received word two days later that it was incomplete and that one field was not filled out and the $43,000 in grant funding denied as a result.

Handrick has written a letter to the grant administrator asking for reconsideration due to the circumstances. She noted there were other counties in the state in the same situation due to COVID-19 quarantines and she is continuing to work through the appeal process.

Taylor County Sheriff Larry Woebbeking reported that the county’s new E-9-1-1 upgrade has been installed and is operational. The new system provides additional functionality such as being able to transfer calls to neighboring counties and the ability to locate cellular phone callers. He said they are continuing to work with issues with the recording function but was optimistic they would get it resolved.

Committee member Ray Soper questioned if the recent outages in the system had been related to the ongoing upgrade work.

Chief Deputy Corey Dassow said those issues were unrelated to the work at the courthouse and were issues with TDS Telecom and another company. “I am promised those are taken care of and we should look pretty good going forward,” Dassow said.

In other law enforcement business, committee members gave their approval to an ordinance change that would increase the civil process fee by $50 for paperwork that comes in with three days or less to deliver it.

Currently, the county charges lawyers, financial institutions and others $25 per attempt to deliver civil process paperwork. The additional fee is for items that come in last minute.

Law enforcement business

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