Santa Paula Fire Department received new rams, sheers, jaws of life, air bags and a stabilization kit, and Assistant Chief Kevin Fildes said the OTS grant would jointly benefit all departments at mutual aid incidents. Left, Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Fildes; right, Oxnard Firefighter Alex Hamilton (photo by Debbie Johnson).

Santa Paula Fire receives new extrication equipment from OTS grant

February 03, 2010
Santa Paula News


Being on the receiving end of a grant from the state Officer of Traffic Safety (OTS) and National Highway Safety Traffic Safety Administration isn’t always connected to fire departments, but agencies from around the county - including Santa Paula - last week received new life-saving vehicle extrication equipment. 

Five Ventura County fire departments benefited from the OTS grant of $181,022, funds that were used to buy new or additional equipment crafted to save lives by helping firefighters quickly free trapped crash victims. The OTS grant is the first to be received by county fire departments.

According to Oxnard Firefighter Alex Hamilton, OTS grants usually target safety programs such as campaigns encouraging safety belt use. Hamilton said Ventura County received one of only two fire grants awarded, with the “major goal to reduce fatalities” by speeding and make more efficient extricating “traffic victims quickly and getting them to the trauma centers.”

And every fire agency that benefited from the OTS grant “either needed to upgrade or expand their equipment. It will make it safer for us to work traffic collisions and to prevent more fatalities by being able to extricate victims faster.” 

Hamilton said the grant came on the second try: “Last year we were not successful,” prompting him to create a “very detailed analysis” clarifying the need. The OTS grant emphasis is for rural counties, “a coup for us,” as Hamilton noted the lack of equipment was the bigger issue for area agencies than coverage.

With advances in safety technology, said Hamilton, vehicles have become “stronger and smarter.... It makes it safer for the person in the vehicle, but harder for us to extricate them,” a challenge that can now be met with the array of new OTS granted equipment. 

Fire departments received jaws of life for spreading and cutting metal wreckage, cylindrical “rams” capable of pushing or lifting objects, and air bags designed to lift and stabilize objects during rescues, offering protection to both victims and firefighters. Some of the equipment is so strong it is suitable for use in mass rescues such as a train derailment.

Santa Paula Fire Department received new rams, sheers, jaws of life, air bags and a stabilization kit, and Assistant Chief Kevin Fildes said the OTS grant would jointly benefit all departments at mutual aid incidents. 

Hamilton requested OTS stickers that recognize the granting agency for the equipment, which will be carefully tracked for the first 12 months - or until the value drops below $5,000 - with records kept on training and actual traffic accident usage. “If it helps save a life,” Hamilton said, he wants the contribution of the OTS equipment documented. 

Other fire departments that received equipment through the OTS grant are the City of Ventura, Fillmore, and Ventura County Fire.





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