Colonie paramedics will be able to equip as many as 20 first responders with the latest tools in treating biological and chemical emergencies through a federal grant.
On Tuesday, Oct. 23, town officials and members of the Emergency Medical Services department announced they were the recipients of a $67,080 Homeland Security Fire Act grant.
The town used the money to purchase respirators, radios, full-body suits and a portable triage shelter, among other items. With the equipment, Colonie paramedics will take on all medical related calls with Albany County's hazardous material team, providing such services throughout the Capital District and beyond.
We've received enough of this equipment so an entire shift (of paramedics) can be protected, said EMS Department Chief John Politis.
Colonie paramedics, in addition to providing medical assistance to town residents, work in conjunction with the state police and county sheriff's department at the Albany County International Airport, said Politis. Adding these devices to the department's arsenal will vastly improve regional response to possible biological and/or chemical emergencies in the area, he said.
The addition is the latest in a continued evolution of the town department, said Brizzell. Each year, most recently two weeks ago, town paramedics are commended for their efforts by the local and state agencies they help, said Mary Brizzell, town supervisor.
"This will ensure that our emergency services providers can provide the best services they have been called to do," Brizzell said.
The department applied for the federal grant late last year. It will allow paramedics to operate longer and respond to more severe situations, such as patient exposure to hazardous chemicals and biological agents or viral outbreaks such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, said EMS Department Deputy Chief Peter Berry.
"It (the new apparatus) can allow us to work for four hours in an environment," said Berry.