Fire district seeks grants for equipment

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 27, 1999

VIDALIA, La. – Five defibrillators and a camera that sees through smoke are on Chief Nolen Cothren’s wish list of life-saving equipment needed at Concordia Fire District No. 2.

But those items could cost up to $48,000, Cothren estimates. And the district, which is mostly volunteer and has a $150,000-a-year budget made up of property taxes and donations, doesn’t have the money to spare. So last week, Cothren and Lt. David Cobb went to a five-day seminar in Winnsboro, La., to learn where to find and how to apply for grants to buy more equipment and fund education to help save lives. It was sponsored by the Northeast Delta Resource Conservation and Development District (RC&D).

&uot;We’ve looked at getting these things before, but we put it on the back burner because we didn’t know how to go look for the money,&uot;&160;Cothren said.

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The seminar taught fire officials how to use reference books, many of which are available at libraries and RC&D offices, to see which agencies, foundations and companies have grants available. They also learned how to write grant applications.

Cothren said he would like to see defibrillators placed at five of the district’s eight fire stations, which are located throughout unincorporated Concordia Parish.

Since the department’s volunteers are familiar with the parish’s rural areas, they sometimes get to a patient before an ambulance does. With the machines, those volunteers could see whether a patient’s heart needed to be shocked and could start the treatment before the ambulance arrived.

&uot;That time is precious, because a person’s brain starts to die in five minutes&uot;&160;after the heart stops, Cothren said. Such machines can cost up to $4,800 each, he added.

Also, Cothren would like the district to get a thermal imaging camera firefighters would use to see through smoke, allowing them to locate people in a burning building. They could also use it to detect &uot;hot spots&uot;&160;that still exist in a structure after a fire.

And the district wants to expand its fire safety program from Ferriday Kindergarten Center to all the parish’s elementary schools. For the last two years, it has gotten a $500 grant for educational materials, but additional funds may be available.

The department should start to seek grants in earnest early next year and Cobb will be in charge of finding those funds, Cothren said.