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Fire department seeking grant for new patient cots

Sunnyside Fire Chief Aaron Markham this past Monday evening let the public safety committee know his department is seeking an Assistance to Firefighters grant in the amount of nearly $140,000.

That money, he said, would be used for the purchase of new patient cots and a lift that would work in conjunction with the cots.

Markham said the cots would reduce the risk of injury to paramedics when an ambulance transport is needed. The cots are battery operated and the lift is hydraulic.

"They also improve patient safety," said Markham, noting there is less jarring as a patient is loaded into an ambulance.

Both the safety of the patients and the paramedics is important. The fire chief said statistics show 25 percent of adults are obese. For this reason, the cots currently used are not always adequate. They are rated for up to 600 pounds, whereas the new cots are rated for up to 700 pounds. That means they can accommodate heavier patients more easily.

Markham said the Sunnyside Fire Department would not be looking at the purchase of the new cots if the Assistance to Firefighters funding was not available.

The city's responsibility, if the fire department is awarded the funding, will be just under $7,000 (5 percent of the cost). The federal funding would cover the other 95 percent of the cost (approximately $133,000).

Markham told the public safety committee the funds are available and he was going to approach council for approval to apply for the grant later night.

"The application must be submitted by July 6," said Markham.

Later on Monday, during the regularly scheduled Sunnyside City Council meeting, council members provided Markham unanimous consent for the application for the Assistance to Firefighters grant.

Markham also updated the committee members earlier in the evening on progress being made on the fire department's property.

Markham said the property is being prepared for the future construction of a new fire station. Uncovered, he said, was a 380-gallon diesel tank located where the new fire station's wash bays will be located.

He said there wasn't any documentation on the existing blueprints for the property and it was initially believed the tank had been decommissioned.

However, said Markham, the tank wasn't decommissioned even though it was empty.

The Department of Ecology was contacted and evaluated the tank. After a thorough review of the site, Markham said the technician found the tank is regulated and needs to be removed from the property.

Markham said that removal was done and soil samples were taken to analyze the site for possible contamination.

"Blue Mountain Environmental was hired to supervise the removal of the tank," said the fire chief.

He said that same company will provide clean-up of the contaminated soil, which was found to have 3,000 parts per million of diesel. That's approximately 1,000 parts per million more than acceptable levels.

"We are looking at completing a voluntary clean-up of the site within 90 days... if we don't do that, the Department of Ecology will step in and oversee the clean-up process," said Markham.

He said it is the fire department's goal to complete projects like the clean-up to prevent delays in the construction of the new fire station.

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