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Sandy Journal

Sandy City Council gets demos, updates from Fire and Police Departments

Aug 31, 2016 02:38PM ● By Chris Larson

Councilman Steve Fairbanks, at-large, helped demonstrate the fire department’s new Stryker bariatric stretcher and integrated ambulance lift at a tour/demonstration and mid-budget update meeting with Sandy Fire Department and Police Departments on Aug. 23, 2016, south of Sandy City Hall. (My City Journals/Chris Larson)

By Chris Larson | [email protected]

The Sandy City Fire and Police Departments didn’t hold back with drills and demonstrations that the City Council participated in on Tuesday, Aug. 24. 

The departments set up drills and equipment demos in conjunction with update meetings with Fire Chief Bruce Cline and Police Chief Kevin Thacker. 

The council members toured the cities newest ambulance and simulated a medical call with firefighters and EMTs, then went to the Salt Lake Community College - Miller Campus to shoot on the firing range and participate in shooting drills. 

The council and Sandy firefighters and EMTs then ran a high paced medical call simulation in the tight quarters of the south side men’s restroom of City Hall. 

“I wanted to show the council how hard it is to work on a patient in small quarters,” Cline said, “I want to show what our calls are like and how many resources it takes to perform the job firefighters do without actually having happened to a real person.”

The council members grabbed all the EMT gear from the ambulance before running through a high-pace simulation where a CPR dummy represented a victim whose in full cardiac arrest. 

City Council Office Director Mike Applegarth and Councilmen Scott Cowdell and Chris McCandless, District 1 and 3, respectively, rotated between giving rescue breaths with a bag valve mask and chest compressions. Councilwoman Kris Coleman-Nicholl, District 3, simulated the use of a defibrillator and putting in an IV. 

“When (firefighters or EMTs) are out on a call or a fire they are out doing 110 times more of a job than just sitting in a chair,” Coleman-Nicholl said. 

The ambulance toured was one of two new Ford-Frazer Bilt ambulances received earlier in the year. Both of the ambulances are equipped with bariatric gurney and lift systems. 

Cline said the lift could bear up to 700 pounds with just the push of a button. The lift then latches into the floor of the cab and glides in on an integrated lift assist system designed to prevent injury to responders trying to transport large patients or making frequent transports. 

The lift system, which Cline said is priced near $40,000, is considered both a means of saving patient dignity and the city money. 

“You save at least $40,000 right there preventing a worker’s compensation claim for a back injury,” Cline told the council. 

He also said that it prevents the possibility of dropping a patient regardless of their weight with the help of this particular gurney and lift system. 

“Imagine if an ambulance is rolled up in your front yard and (the responders) have to use a ramp, a hoist and a rope system to get you in the ambulance,” Cline said of transporting large or obese patients with dignity. 

The two new ambulances, located at Station 31 and 35, allow for the chassis to be replaced as needed. He estimated that the chassis would last somewhere between five to ten years with a serious consideration of replacement at seven years. 

Cline updated the council on the state of the department. Cline said the department was fully staffed and was able to refurbish the department's 100-foot ladder engine Tower 35. 

The engine recently returned from a Wisconsin refurbishing company. The refurbish costed about half of purchasing a new engine, a cost of about $1.3 million, Cline told the Sandy City Journal.

The fire department is working through a Request for Proposals process to purchase a wildland fire truck, an additional appropriation from the City Council.  

After the lifesaving drill, the council went to the firing range on the first floor of the Larry & Gail Miller Public Safety Education & Training Center at the Miller SLCC campus where they shot several guns including comparing the Glock 9mm to the Smith & Wesson .40 caliber guns. Like many agencies, the Sandy Police Department is transitioning to using 9mm ammunition. 

“Our (officers) have seen an increase in shooting scores going from .40 caliber to 9mm,” Thacker said. In part, Thacker attributes that greater slightly lighter kick from the 9mm in the same frames as previous sidearms. 

The police department is replacing the police sidearms as part of a trade-in program where the department is able to purchase the guns at significant discount, Thacker said. 

“The thinking with this was to give them an idea with what we deal with,” Thacker said.  

The council members then participated in what Thacker called “isolation drills,” drills where the participants engaged in very specific scenarios that isolated a particular skill, using Simunition. Simunition is a branded non-lethal training round and retrofitting system for law enforcement officer to train person-to-person. 

And the city council members went person to person. Donning protective vests and masks, the city council members shoot Simunition at each other. 

Councilman Scott Cowdell found one isolation drill notably insightful. Cowdell had his Sim-gun trained on Coleman-Nicholl who was acting as an armed suspect. Cowdell commanded Coleman-Nicholl to disarm. Coleman-Nicholl continued to role-play as the suspect and then suddenly drew up and shot Cowdell before Cowdell could react. 

“It was amazing that even if you have the bead on me I can pull my gun fast enough to shoot you and that’s what officers have to face,” Cowdell said. 

Officer Brandon Colton, who was instructing the council members in the drills, said the purpose of these drills is to demonstrate just how fast someone can shoot a gun effectively, even against an officer who is already aiming a gun. 

Thacker said that a suspect already knows what they want to do and officers are disadvantaged with having to process and then react appropriately. 

Coleman-Nicholl said that even with the de-escalation of knowing the guns were fake and no one at the training facility was dying, the anxiety was palpable. 

“I respect the hell out of these guys,” Coleman-Nicholl said. 

Thacker said the department has four openings and has begun a testing process to fill the open spots. The department already has five officers in the police academy, three that recently completed field training, and one in the process of field training. The department at one point was 17 officers short of a full department. He told the council he was grateful they allowed him to do some “creative” things and allow for changing pay and rank to attract officers to the department.

“We always work to be fully staffed,” Thacker said that realities of hiring and a general hiring dearth in law enforcement hiring are making staffing difficult. “We are in a testing process and hoping to find some good people, but testing takes two to three months and we just started and have a way to go to see if there is anyone we can hire.”