WATERVILLE — Waterville and several area fire departments will be adding nine cardiac monitors to their equipment supply.

Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, announced Friday that the departments — Waterville, Winslow, Albion, Fairfield and Clinton — received a $370,415 federal grant to put toward the purchase. Eight additional fire departments in the state’s first congressional district were also awarded funds as a part of the grant. The money comes from Federal Emergency Management Agency Assistance to Firefighter Grants, according to a news release from Pingree’s office. Together, the Maine municipalities will receive $1,169,893.

The FEMA website has not yet reported the other winners of this year’s Assistance to Firefighter Grants, more of which could come from Maine’s second congressional district.

Waterville Fire Chief Shawn Esler said that the departments applied for cardiac monitors because of a rise in the number of medical calls they have received, particularly in recent years. The amount of EMS and rescue calls Waterville responded to increased by 7.15% over last year, according to Esler, who is also a deputy chief for Albion.

“In the fire service, we are seeing an increased demand for services specific to EMS delivery,” Esler said. “Eighty percent of our business is responding to EMS and rescue calls, which is about the average throughout the region. So we’re seeing more calls for EMS than ever before, and to meet the demands, essentially, of our customers, we are enhancing our ability to provide those services.”

Cardiac monitors help firefighters identify and treat patients’ heart-related issues quickly, said Esler. Of the nine units, three will go to Waterville, two to Winslow, two to Clinton, one for Fairfield and one for Albion. Esler noted that the monitors will arrive in roughly two months, after each department gets approval from their town government and puts the project out to bid.

Last week, the Waterville Fire Department received about $230,000 from the same Assistance to Firefighter Grant program to fund the purchase of 34 self-contained breathing apparatuses, or air packs, according to Esler.

“Firefighters who risk their lives every day need the best equipment and training possible,” Pingree stated in the release. “Having access to the latest technology is imperative for our firefighters to do their jobs successfully. This funding is welcome news and will go a long way to make improvements, strengthen existing facilities, and protect our communities and firefighters.”

Buxton, Gorham, Standish and Windham received $454,255 as part of a regional grant to finance 20 mobile radio repeaters, 100 firefighter pagers, 55 mobile radios, 31 headsets and 180 portable radios. Yarmouth was awarded $185,333 for 28 firefighter breathing apparatus and 20 face pieces. Standish received $100,571 to put toward a diesel fume source capture exhaust system. Portland got $59,319 for three protective gear washers and three protective gear dryers.


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