Extending a Helping Hand, Next Gen 911 and MRSA Test Kits

Issue 4 and Volume 40.

Helping Hands

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to help out the people in your community. Members of Ada County Paramedics in Boise, Idaho, are showing us all just how easy it can be.

To assist the homeless, the agency developed the Paramedics and Plastic Bags program. Employees pool together money from their own pockets and purchase items to make up care kits, which they then distribute to the local homeless population.

Employees stock their ambulances with the kits—made of snacks, water, gloves, hand warmers, a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, hand sanitizer and soap—and hand them out when they encounter individuals who may benefit from them. The organization said paramedics receive a valuable gift in knowing they’ve changed someone’s day for the better, as well.

“It’s been incredible to see the outpouring of support our community has demonstrated to this cause. We’ve been receiving donations—everything from boxes of hand warmers to shampoo to cash, all sent to us in an effort to help us sustain this program,” Hadley Mayes, Ada County Paramedics public information officer, said. “We initially purchased all the items with employee-pooled funds from our Ada County Paramedics Association. The community donations will allow us to continue the Paramedics and Plastic Bags program.”

A big thumbs up to Ada County Paramedics for finding a way to do even more for their community and coming up with an easy way to help those around them. Homelessness is likely to always be an issue to some degree, but with outreach like this, here’s hoping that simple programs gain ground.

Next-Gen Call Centers

The next generation of 9-1-1 is here. With it, numerous improvements will soon roll out across the country.

Enter Laurie Flaherty, coordinator of the National 9-1-1 Program for the past decade. As a former emergency nurse, Flaherty realizes the importance of high-quality 9-1-1 communications and the challenges posed by emerging technologies. She led the campaign to strengthen and improve the nation’s 9-1-1 system through coordination with states, technology providers, and public and private partners.

To assist call centers nationwide, Flaherty, along with the National Telecommunications Information Administration, has managed a grant program that has awarded more than $40 million for capability improvements to 30 states since 2009. She’s also been integral in establishing a 9-1-1 resource center to assist states and local authorities with technical and operational issues.

We give a thumbs up to Flaherty for leading the way to better 9-1-1 communication nationwide. Thanks to her tireless efforts, call centers can look forward to seamless improvements and training, bringing our emergency systems into a new age of sophistication.

MRSA Test Kit

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) can be a threat to local establishments, schools and even our homes if cleaniness is ignored. We rarely consider public safety agencies at risk.

Thanks to a MRSA test kit, developed by professor Marilyn Roberts of the University of Washington School of Public Health, 33 fire stations in the Seattle, Wash., area can now keep an eye out for the antibiotic-resistant bacteria. After discovering MRSA in two fire stations tested three years ago, Roberts developed the testing kit and sent them to the 33 firehouses.

More than half of the stations tested positive for MRSA somewhere in the building—with one employee testing positive in at least a third of the stations. Common living areas, bedrooms, exercise rooms and other parts of the stations were found to contain MRSA. Stations are now requiring firefighters to leave their equipment in the garage before washing up and entering the common areas.

Thumbs up to Roberts for recognizing a problem and helping firefighters protect themselves. Had she settled with her initial test results, this could have grown into a bigger problem.