JOHNSBURG - After three years of persistence, the Johnsburg Emergency Squad was notified earlier this year of a major federal grant award.
The $51,087 award, provided through FEMA will assist the squad in its efforts to update equipment and enhance their training programs. Kelly Nessle, one of the squads primary grant writers, is responsible for securing the FEMA funding.
In 2008, the squad has received over $114,000 in direct grants through a variety of sources.
The organization has also been working toward a fund-drive goal of $39,000 through a solicitation letter mailed earlier this year. To date, $17,000 has been raised through donations - a figure that is down slightly from last year's effort.
The funds will be applied toward upgrading and modernizing equipment to stay compliant with New York State Department of Health standards.
"It's a constant project to keep our equipment up-to-date," JEMS acting chairman, Mark Bergman said. "So between the fundraising and the grants we are hoping to make some progress this year."
A significant portion of the FEMA grant will be used to upgrade communications equipment with new multi-channel radios and pagers. They will also invest in training materials and equipment such as a projector and related computerized training resources.
The squad will now be able to eliminate the use of handwritten patient records and transition to tablet-style personal computers. The computers will provide a direct link between the squad and hospital staff as patient care data is recorded live on the scene and in the ambulance.
Upon arrival at the hospital the patient data will be transmitted directly into the hospital's computer system - eliminating the opportunity for data entry errors and speeding the process.
"It's a big benefit to patient care," Bergman said. "The equipment represents a major suite of enhancements for the squad and in the long run it will save us money in the form of efficiency and accuracy."
In addition to its grant activity, the squad will continue to address a handful of other issues in 2009 including recruitment, vehicle replacement, and squad housing.
"One of my leadership goals is to keep recruiting in the forefront of our members thoughts," Bergman added. "It's an important aspect of our need. We have too few people working too many hours right now."
In 2009 the squad will begin to consider the purchase of a new ambulance to replace one unit among its aging fleet. They hope to obtain grant money toward the investment but realize that the current economic conditions are not favorable.
Earlier this year several issues came to light regarding the squad's headquarters in a renovated portion of the town's "Scout Hall" in Johnsburg. As the squad has grown and State requirements become more stringent - the building has proven to be inadequate for their future needs.
"While we have not formally announced it yet, we will be embarking on a capital campaign to build a new building," Bergman concluded. "Our current facility is woefully inadequate and we are exploring several options."