Funds earmarked for HazMat equipment
By Mark Randall firstname.lastname@example.org
Crittenden County Emergency Management services will be getting some new hazardous materials detection equipment thanks to a $16,000 federal grant. The county EMS applied for the money back in June through the Department of Homeland Security and needed the Quorum Court’s permission to spend the money by the end of December. “It’s a 100 percent grant,” said county EMS Director Bud Spears. “ We were notified last week that we received it. You spend the money and they reimburse you.” Spears said there are only three fire departments in northeast Arkansas that are qualified to respond to hazmat calls: West Memphis, Jonesboro and Blytheville. “In order to be classified as a full hazmat fire department you have to have 12 on duty full time personnel,” Spears said. West Memphis Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Jones said West Memphis Fire Department has responded to hazmat calls all over eastern Arkansas. “We respond to Helena, Colt, Tyronza, Marked Tree, Marianna,” Jones said. “We pretty much respond to this whole side of the state.” Spears said the money will be used to replace some out of date hazmat detection supplies such as spill fighters, gamma ray detection, fluoride detection paper, and thermal energy cameras. “These are materials more so than equipment that expire every two to four years,” Spears said. “It is rather costly to replace. So they are looking at replacing some of their out of date supplies.” On a related matter, Spears also informed the Quorum Court that the county will be participating in an earthquake disaster drill with the Department of Defense in June. “It is going to last 30 days and it is going to replicate the post-earthquake event in our area and get mass medical treatment to the county,” Spears said. Spears said it will take about the next five months to plan with the Department of Defense. “We’re looking forward to that,” Spears said. “It is going to be a big effort. But I think it is something that Crittenden County can stick a feather in its cap.” “I believe this is the biggest operation they have ever done in the United States,” added County Judge Woody Wheeless, who is also fire chief in Marion.