Arlington Fire Department driver/operator/EMT Matt Urtz demonstrates how local emergency responders currently lift patients into the back of one of their EMS cars on Oct. 5.

The Arlington Fire Department has recently received hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant funding which will provide new equipment and staff for local emergency services.

The department received four grants, three of which are from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Those grants include a SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant, which will allow the Arlington Fire Department to hire three new employees.

The $589,000 grant provides 75 percent of the salary and benefits of the new employees for two years, and then 25 percent of the salary and benefits for the third year.

The remaining funds will be paid for the by the department, according to Dave Kraski, fire chief for the Arlington Fire Department.

Another of the FEMA grants will provide the district $130,000 to install power lift cots into their emergency response vehicles.

“In the back of our EMS cars, traditionally we lower and raise the cots manually,” said Kraski.

“The majority of our calls are picking people up in EMS cars,” he said, so that means a lot of emergency responders connecting their cots to the back of their vehicles and manually lifting the full weight of a person into the car.

Kraski said it is a big cause of back injury and back strain among emergency responders.

“The new power lift cots connect to the back of the car,” and do a lot of the work for the emergency responders, said Kraski.

The power lift cots will be installed in the three primary EMS cars of the department, but not their reserve car that they use when their primary vehicles are being maintained or repaired.

The Arlington Fire Department, along with two departments around Stanwood, teamed up for the third FEMA grant, which provides $770,000 to replace 123 sets of self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBA).

The devices provide breathable air to firefighters while they are in places where they may be breathing fumes that are toxic.

“The SCBA provide fresh, clean, air to be breathed in a dangerous environment,” said Kraski. “Any time the environment is hazardous, these devices help keep our firefighters safe."

Because the devices work through pressurized cylinders that lose their pressure, all of the devices will eventually fail and begin to not work.

“All of the devices from our department and the two other departments had about a year left of life,” said Kraski.

The Arlington Fire Department’s final grant was from the Stillaguamish Tribe.

The Tribe provided $22,000 for a LUCAS device, which does chest compressions during a CPR situation.

Performing CPR in some situations, such as when first responders are on the road, can be dangerous said Kraski. It is also frequently strenuous.

“This just eliminates some of the manpower necessary, so it frees up more hands to do other things,” he said.

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