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Grants to pay for fire equipment, CPR machine

| Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

A hands-free CPR device is among the items Monroeville fire chiefs plan to buy this year with state grant money derived from Pennsylvania slot machines.

“We're hoping to buy something we don't have in Monroeville,” Fire Company No. 6 Chief Harold Katofsky said.

Four of Monroeville's five volunteer fire departments and Monroeville Emergency Medical Services received grant money that is administered through the Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner's Office.

Monroeville Fire Company No. 3 did not apply for the grant.

Among the equipment Monroeville emergency officials plan to buy is a LUCAS CPR machine, which would increase the chance of survival for patients, Katofsky said.

The machine compresses a patient's chest with the same pressure and consistency as a trained professional — ideally while emergency responders are transporting the patient to a hospital, said Dr. Clifton Callaway, a University of Pittsburgh professor of emergency medicine.

The technology of automated chest compressions has existed since the 1980s, but the LUCAS device has proven most effective in recent clinical trials, Callaway said.

“Some of the early devices didn't work so well, but manufactures have continued to improve them,” Callaway said. “LUCAS is the latest generation of that technology.”

The machine will cost about $15,000, so Monroeville emergency officials plan to combine $7,000 in state grant funding with $8,000 of fundraising dollars already raised by fire departments, Fire Company No. 5 Chief Ron Harvey said.

The machine will rotate to a different department every 30 days, he said.

“That way, everybody shares responsibility of getting it to a call,” Harvey said.

Each fire company was eligible for a maximum $15,000.

Ambulance services could receive up to $10,000.

Fire departments across the state received $30 million in grant funding that originated as slot-machine revenue, Pennsylvania fire Commissioner Edward A. Mann said.

Mann said the money is particularly helpful given the high cost of even basic fire equipment — including $2,200 for protective clothing, $4,000 to $5,000 for a self-contained breathing apparatus unit, $350 for boots and $95 for gloves.

“At the end of the day, it (the grant money) helps,” Mann said. “It doesn't solve all of the financial issues, but it goes a long way to help.”

Monroeville Fire Company No. 5 received about $13,600 in grant funding, which will help with an annual payment toward the municipality's only foam and water tanker truck, Harvey said.

The truck was purchased a few years ago for $350,000 — which included a $10,000 down payment — via fundraising efforts of volunteer departments, he said.

The truck's water supply is the equivalent of multiple pumper trucks, and the foam it carries could be used for chemical fires. It also could function as a water source in case of a water emergency.

The grant money is designated to be used for the purchase of equipment, apparatus, debt reduction related to equipment and apparatus, and training and certification, Mann said.

Departments submit applications beginning in the fall.

Grants are awarded in January, and departments are required by September to file reports detailing how the money was spent.

Reporter Karen Zapf contributed to this report. Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or klawson@tribweb.com.

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