When the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Standards (MIEMSS) in 2019 required EMS vehicles to carry pediatric (or small adult) safety straps for stretchers, the Level Volunteer Fire Department (VFD) in rural Harford County wondered where they would get the funds to acquire this new equipment.
“We are not in a municipality, so we don’t receive city funding,” explained Sandra Gallion, president of the Level VFD. “Our members conducted fund drives, banquets and craft fairs to raise money and connect us to the community, but those monies fund only our large equipment and operating costs.” And, with COVID-19 restrictions shuttering those traditional fundraising avenues in early 2020, the challenge became even greater.
The 50 dedicated members of the Level VFD are committed, even in today’s trying circumstances, to making the required three minute ambulance response time and the five minute fire engine response time goals. Gallion explained that vehicle turnaround between calls is now longer and more taxing due to all the disinfection protocols: members must disinfect all the gear, decontaminate the rigs, shower, change clothes, etc. after every call.
For three consecutive years, the Level VFD’s Grant Committee applied for and received enough funds from the BGE Emergency Response and Safety Grants program to purchase the small safety restraints required by MIEMSS and become fully trained on their use. In 2021, they received a $2000 grant to upgrade the kitchen equipment for stand by crews who “bunk up” at the station. The station plans to purchase a new stove and refrigerator with that money.
“Because of the travel time in rural areas, some of our volunteers stay overnight at the station to be on hand to respond immediately. This means meal preparation,” explained Gallion. “And, our kitchen equipment has not been upgraded for twenty years.”
As COVID restrictions begin to ease and most of the members of the VFD get vaccines, the crews look forward to resuming their previous community outreach activities. “We still wear our protective equipment, masks, gloves and social distance, per the CDC recommendations, but since the first of 2021, things have begun to loosen and we want to welcome family members back to the station soon,” Gallion said.
Still on the station’s wish list is a Lucas Chest Compression System to assist with CPR.
“Our goal is always to better our station and our equipment to serve our community to best of our ability,” Gallion proudly concluded.
BGE’s Emergency Response and Safety Grants program supports nonprofit emergency response and public safety organizations throughout BGE’s service area. Over the last nine years, BGE has provided over $2.5 million to 470 nonprofit organizations who share BGE’s commitment to the safety of central Maryland residents. Grants of up to $10,000 are available for eligible 501c3 organizations. In addition to supporting the emergency responder community in Maryland, BGE provides training for fire, police, 911 centers and emergency management organizations who routinely work around utility equipment.
Check out what Stevenson University did with their grant.