The Cambrian

$221K grant pays for Cambria Fire Dept. training, equipment

T he Cambria Fire Department soon will have upgraded radios, its own paramedic gear and paramedic training for three firefighters.

A $221,206 Assistance to Firefighter grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and an $11,642 expenditure by the Cambria Community Services District will pay for the upgrades and training.

The department learned of the grant award from Rep. Lois Capps’office on Feb. 3.

Before the services-district directors unanimously approved the local funding on Feb. 25, Board President Greg Sanders said the grant gave CCSD “considerable leverage of our money for a program that’s vital in terms of the service our fire department can provide.”

Director Muril Clift called it “a heck of a deal.”

The advanced-life-support (ALS) equipment purchase means Cambria Fire won’t have to continue borrowing similar equipment from the Cambria Community Healthcare District, switching it back and forth as needed between the fire engine and the healthcare district’s fourth ambulance.

With the ALS kit, a licensed paramedic who is on staff at both agencies can begin advanced lifesaving procedures before the ambulance arrives.

Among the items in the kit will be:

• A $17,000 heart-defibrillator unit that also monitors a patient’s cardiac responses;

•Equipment for inserting a tube into a patient’s windpipe to aid breathing; and

• Monitors for pulse and blood-glucose levels.

Fire Capt. Michael Gallagher, who wrote the grant request, said that “the healthcare district was gracious enough to loan us their equipment, but nobody likes to borrow someone else’s tools. This allows us to have our own equipment for 5 cents on the dollar.”

The $15,000 in radio equipment will allow the department to replace aging communicators and meet federal mandates to switch to a different radio frequency, a “narrow band.” Without the new equipment, it would have been more difficult for local firefighters in the field to communicate with dispatchers and other departments after the 2012 deadline for the switch.