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Posted May 20, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Officials submit grant application

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State funds would equip ambulances with laptops to streamline operations for emergency technicians

By J.R. Williams -- jrwilliams@nvdaily.com

GORE -- Frederick County fire and rescue officials hope a successful state grant application will help streamline operations for emergency medical technicians.

The $80,000 grant would provide laptop computers for 22 ambulances to aid responders in more quickly completing their incident reports, Fire Chief Tim Welsh told the Frederick County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association on Monday night.

"It's an effort to cut down on time spent at the hospital," Welsh said.

With the laptops, EMTs will be able to begin their reports while still inside the ambulance, then plug into the hospital's system once they arrive. Currently, reports must be entered at the hospital or at the individual rescue companies, Welsh said.

The grant -- brought to Welsh's attention by the Lord Fairfax EMS Council -- requires no matching funds from the county, and "funding is available for all ... EMS agencies licensed in Virginia," a memo from the state Department of Health states.

But there's potentially a snag: The computers come pre-loaded with EMT software, but not the kind the county uses. Welsh said the county, along with other rescue agencies, have requested the grant come with the correct software licenses.

If that request is denied, it would cost the county $26,000 for the correct program.

Welsh said the grant comes at a good time because renovations to Winchester Medical Center could make it more difficult for EMTs to enter their reports.

The grant is a step forward for the county's fire companies to network their computer operations and improve efficiency, he said.

If approved, the state would provide the county with Panasonic Toughbook brand laptops. The state's grant money is provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In other business, requests for price quotes are out for group insurance rates for the county's firefighters. The move would save the county a "considerable" amount of money, said Christine Langley, volunteer services coordinator.

Three companies, Chesterfield Insurance, VFIS and J.V. Arthur Insurance, have until June 26 to submit their prices, Langley said.

Putting the fire companies under one umbrella was a potential cost-saving measure the county suggested to save funds during a particularly difficult budget year.

"The county was very instrumental to develop a plan of action," Langley said. "It's been a group effort."

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