Johnston County Emergency Medical Services has landed grant dollars to buy protective gear and conduct emergency-scenario training.
Last week, EMS chief Josh Holloman asked County Commissioners to formally accept the grants, one of which requires a 10-percent county match.
The larger award, for $146,600, is a federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant. The money, including a $14,600 county match, will purchase protective gear for EMS employees and several training mannequins.
The protective gear looks much like what firefighters wear but is lighter and cheaper because it doesn’t have a thermal layer. Holloman envisions paramedics wearing the gear while trying to free someone trapped in a car after a crash.
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“With the gear, we can enter this dangerous environment with protection and provide the potential lifesaving care while extrication is taking place,” Holloman said in an email.
The second grant, for $19,250, comes from N.C. Emergency Management and will pay for a training exercise at Johnston Regional Airport. In the mock disaster, Johnston EMS and other agencies will respond to a plane crash with a fuel spill and fire.
The exercise will involve EMS, fire departments, law enforcement and Johnston Health.
“It’s going to test our ability to respond to a situation where a lot of people are injured at one time,” Johnston Fire Marshal Paul Whitehurst said in an interview.
The drill is tentatively scheduled for next April. Afterward, the Johnston agencies, working with preparedness firm EnviroSafe, will determine areas of needed improvement, Whitehurst said.
Any shortcomings, while not preferable, could lead to more grant dollars to help the county improve, he said. “A lot of times with grants, you’ve got to show a need,” Whitehurst said. “I there’s a need we can show, it might help us with future grants or materials.”
Fire departments have been touting such a drill for a couple of years. The county decided to move forward once the airport finished construction of its new terminal, Whitehurst said.
“It’s something we’re really looking forward to,” he said.
County Commissioners last week elected a new chairman.
Tony Braswell, a 10-year veteran of the board, succeeds Jeff Carver. His election was unanimous.
In a short speech, Braswell thanked Carver for his two years as chairman and spoke about the individual strengths of his fellow commissioners. While he knows holding the top seat will have its challenges, Braswell said he will work hard to serve the citizens of Johnston County.
“We will continue working diligently for the citizens of this county, and they will surely know their local government works for them,” he said.
Succeeding Braswell as vice chairman is DeVan Barbour, who has also served on the board for 10 years. Barbour, of Benson, said he was looking forward to working hard in his new post.
“We’ve got some tough shoes to fill – I think we’re up for it,” Barbour said.
The three commissioners whose terms expired in 2014 – Cookie Pope, Allen Mims and Chad Stewart – all ran unopposed and were sworn in Monday.