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Tag Archive | "first responders"

Kent County announces Smart911 to help save lives


Residents can now sign up for free service that provides first responders with critical information

The Kent County Dispatch Authority is investing in the community’s safety by adopting Smart911.

Smart911 is a nationwide service that allows individuals to create an online safety profile for their household, which provides key information to 911 call takers during an emergency. This information enables faster and more effective emergency response by law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services. When citizens who have signed up with Smart911 make 911 calls, their safety profile is automatically displayed to 911, providing dispatchers with an enhanced level of information that can assist in assigning the correct public safety responders.

Available for the first time to Kent County residents, this free service enables them to create individual and household profiles at www.smart911.com. Residents can add photos, detailed medical information, pets, cell phones, vehicle descriptions and other information that can be critical during an emergency situation.

“Smart911saves critical time in an emergency and has proven to save lives nationwide,” said Curtis Holt, chair of the Kent County Dispatch Authority. “The additional information provided in a Smart911 safety profile can save critical minutes in an emergency and help responders offer better services. Smart911 allows residents to link both home and work addresses to mobile phones, which can be passed on to responders in the field for a more detailed, rapid response. All information is optional, and each citizen has the ability to choose what they would like to include.”

Smart911 is currently available in 40 states and more than 1,500 municipalities across the country. The service has been credited with positively impacting emergency outcomes, including the recovery of a missing child, whose photo and physical description were immediately available to law enforcement units, as well as a heart attack victim, whose address and medical notes allowed responders to be dispatched to his location and provide timely medical assistance.

“The benefits of having detailed information on a 911 call from a cell phone are immeasurable,” Holt said. “Mobile phones do not provide an address to the 911 call taker. In situations like a weather emergency, seconds matter, and the additional information in a safety profile allows help to arrive better prepared.”

Kent County residents are encouraged to create their safety profile with Smart911 at www.smart911.com to ensure their information is available to 911. It takes approximately 10 minutes to complete the secure online form that will be stored in the confidential Smart911 database. All information is kept private and protected and is only available to 911.

About Kent County Dispatch Authority

The Kent County Dispatch Authority was formed in 2007 to address issues that related to 911 services in the County. KCDA develops policies and procedures for administering 911, creates the annual operating and capital budget, establishes goals and objectives through a strategic plan for future technological or operational enhancements, distributes 911 surcharge funds and other initiatives to maximize efficiency of 911 services. For more information, visit www.kent911.org.

About Smart911

Currently available in 40 states and more than 1,500 municipalities, Smart911 allows citizens to create a free Safety Profile online for their household that includes information they want 911 and response teams to have during an emergency, such as their address, medical conditions, pets, etc. When an emergency call is made, a citizen’s Safety Profile is automatically displayed to the 911 call-taker. Last year, 25 million 911 calls were assisted by Safety Profiles. All information is kept private and secure, only appearing when the associated number calls 911.

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American Legion honors first responders

The Courtland Fire Department was one of the fire departments honored at the American Legion dinner.

The Courtland Fire Department was one of the fire departments honored at the American Legion dinner.

The evening of February 20 was set aside at the American Legion Post in Cedar Springs as a time to honor the First Responders of the community.  A wonderful Swiss steak meal was provided for our local heroes for their sacrifices, contributions and dedication to public service.

The Kent County Sheriff Department was also in attendance

The Kent County Sheriff Department was also in attendance

Seventy-five attendees from the Sand Lake Police and Fire Department, Solon Township Fire Department, Cedar Springs Fire Department, Spencer Township Fire Department, Courtland Township Fire Department, Oakfield Township Fire Department, Algoma Township Fire Department and the Kent County Sherriff’s Department enjoyed the meal and were given certificates of appreciation.

Twenty-five members of the Glen Hill Post 287 Family worked to make this event possible, as well as assistance on items for the dinner from Save A Lot and Kelly’s Restaurant.

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Area first responders train on simulated school bus crash

We prepare for the worst and hope for the best’


by Beth Altena


Within the last month, Courtland Township firefighters, Cannon Township firefighters and Cedar Springs firefighters all responded to what could be a devastating event: accidents involving school buses. No students were hurt in the incidents, but with 870,000 students riding buses daily in the United States, it makes sense for firefighters to be prepared for the eventual call.

Everyone’s got school buses in their area,” said instructor Kevin Sehlmeyer, of Rescue Resources LLC of Rockford, who provided the training, along with two other instructors.

Twenty firefighters attended the daylong class at Courtland Fire Station, 7480 14 Mile Road. They came from departments across West Michigan, including the cities of Reed City, Sturgis, Cedar Springs, Big Rapids, and the townships of Grattan, Oakfield, Courtland and Plainfield.

You don’t often get a chance to do this kind of training,” said Courtland Fire Chief Micky Davis.

A former church school bus was the simulated school bus on which firefighters practiced.

Training was as much about what not to do, as what to do. Sehlmeyer demonstrated techniques and then allowed each of the firefighters to have their own turn. From breaking and removing the glass in the windows to finding the best lines to cut through the body of the bus, training concentrated on getting first responders into the vehicle as fast and safely as possible.

If we were doing this on the street, the idea is to get us in and the kids out as soon as possible,” said Sehlmeyer. He pointed out some things not to do, such as leave hanging chunks of metal around the edges of the access holes, what he called “head dingers.”

Even if we have our helmets on, a lot of rescue and EMS personnel don’t have helmets,” he explained.

The same is true for the tools not being used for a moment. Sehlmeyer advised his class to set them down behind the wheels or under the bus, where they aren’t a tripping hazard for rescuers or patients. Ripping open a school bus is a different than a family vehicle. Sehlmeyer noted there are more layers of steel to be cut.

In bus crashes, the “jaws of life” are less effective in providing an access hole to victims as the hydraulic rescue tool tends to crumple and crush, leaving an opening that is less conducive to moving firefighters in and kids out.

In a bus extrication, I prefer reciprocating saws and air chisels over hydraulic rescue tools. When you use hydraulic rescue tools you can get a very crude, mushed up opening.”

Buses vary greatly in design and construction, so first responders are not likely to know exactly what they will find under the body of the vehicle. Some seats have steel rods in them, others don’t. He said school buses do have regulations—ideally bus drivers are supposed to be able to push out the windshield with a certain amount of force, and width of aisle and placing of the fuel tank are all under strict rules, but other options remain unregulated. He said he doesn’t see school bus seatbelt requirements coming anytime soon—definitely a factor in a crash.

You want to go in, take out a window and put someone inside,” Sehlmeyer stated.

Having a firefighter in the bus is a great asset to the successful cutting of the access hole and evaluating for injuries. Interior obstacles—staying away from heater hoses and making sure a child isn’t on the other side of the panel—make a difference in deciding where to choose to cut.

You don’t want to cut through screw heads. Whether you are using a saw, air chisel or hydraulic rescue tools, cutting less mass means faster access.”

For getting the window glass out, Sehlmeyer noted that duct tape on the glass is important, but not pretty. “It doesn’t have to be perfect. You aren’t wrapping a package.” He told the class to get the tape on, burnish it to get a good grip on the glass, and then make the break. “The goal is to get someone on the bus fast to start triage.”

Sehlmeyer explained a difficulty unique to larger vehicles and school buses is the height at which first responders have to operate saws, air chisels and hydraulic rescue tools.

Nothing is easily done at a bus accident. It’s all over your head.”

He advised making use of available objects to help with raising firefighters to the work—at other bus extrication training students have used a picnic table from a park, other students have used cinder blocks and a panel to make a work platform in a junk yard.

Another unique feature of a bus accident is the narrow aisle through the seats. “You won’t be getting a stretcher or backboard through there,” said Sehlmeyer.

Students may be removed by sliding them across seat tops to an opening created by firefighters on a back board, and lowering them feet first is far preferable than head first, which adds to the distress and panic of the situation.

Chief Davis said another factor rescuers will have to take into account are parents. “How many kids nowadays have a cell phone? The first call they are going to make is to mom and dad to tell them they are in a crash.”

Another factor to take in is the noise the rescue operations make in sawing, breaking glass. Inside the bus the sound is amplified and literally deafening. Assistant Fire Chief Terry Welch said that rescuers need to let frightened passengers know the noise is part of getting them help.

Sehlmeyer said his company offers all sorts of training from vehicle and school bus extrication to fire tactics. Constant training, he stated, is important because technology—both in rescue tools and especially vehicle construction—is changing rapidly. Today’s rescue tools often are able to be changed quickly due to new couplers, a newer development that is a great asset when changing from one rescue tool to another is required. Cars, too, are being constructed today of Ultra High Strength Steel (UHSS), thus new vehicles are harder to cut. The cutting force of today’s newer cutters is necessary to respond in accidents involving 2010 and newer cars.

There are fire departments in Kent County right now that can’t make some cuts into newer cars,” said Sehlmeyer.

Welch said time of day can also be a factor in a bus accident. He noted that for each child on a bus, two rescue professionals are required to extricate and treat them.

If we are taking forty kids to the hospital, that is a lot of EMTs and rescue,” he stated. “Northern Kent County is really great at mutual aid. We all come to each other’s aid. If this was an accident with thirty or forty kids, a lot of resources would go into it. This has been great training.”

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