Fire Gets Nod on New EMS Program

            The Marion Board of Health heard from the Fire Department on a new EMS program during the former’s January 20 public meeting.

            “It’s really a changing dynamic in the fire service in that we want to learn more about our community and learn different ways where we can help people in our community,” explained Fire Chief Brian Jackvony. “Years ago, it was strictly geared towards fire prevention. Most of our response to incidents was geared towards fire prevention, but today we’re looking at programs that fall into the umbrella of community-risk reduction, and that’s where we’re looking to take our community EMS program.”

            Fire Lieutenant Lyle McKay attended the meeting and is serving as the Fire Department’s local expert.

            “As part of community EMS, there is no charge to get a license for it. … Marion is very fortunate to have the programs in place that they have. This is the most-proactive community that I’ve been a part of. It’s been really good with senior outreach so a lot of this stuff’s already going on,” said McKay. “We’re not looking to take any of that over or change anything, we’re just supplementing it.”

            Board of Health Chairman Dr. Ed Hoffer asked for the packet to be mailed out to the board and asked about funding. McKay said the program is not grant-funded but is something fire personnel is expected to carry out during regular working hours.

            Noticing home safety evaluations listed among the programs, Hoffer posed a hypothetical scenario about seniors needing grab bars for their shower and railings. “Recommendations would be a first step for us,” said McKay. “I do agree that some type of grant money down the road … would be appropriate.”

            Jackvony said the Fire Department works with the Council on Aging to point residents in the right direction for services.

            “As far as the grants, we have taken advantage for the last five or six years of a Safe Grant through the (state) Department of Fire Services, and a couple of things that are listed in this package have been paid for directly from the grant from DFS, which is called the Senior Safe Grant,” said Jackvony. “We started with the residential lock-box program. Say there was somebody in the community that had mobility issues and that person would fall in their home, the Fire Department would have immediate access to the home through a secure lock box.

            “We have many of those out in the community. There is no charge for those, we’ve gotten all those through a grant program.”

            With a drop-off in costs over the past year, the Fire Department opted to apply the grant to the assembly and installation of 200 reflective street-address signs. Fire Department personnel work on those in between calls.

            Jackvony said that identifying the right programs and available funding for those programs is “all about getting people to stay in their homes longer and stay in their homes safer.”

            He told the board that some other communities in both Bristol and Plymouth counties are enjoying success with the program.

            Board member Dr. John Howard asked about coordination with the Council on Aging. Jackvony said that it is common for COA representation at the department’s safety meetings.

            Howard asked for the top two priorities. Jackvony said the next step after reflective street signs and the lock box program is home-safety evaluation. McKay agreed and added fall prevention as part of that home evaluation.

            The board voted unanimously to endorse the program and help any way it can.

            Health Agent Ana Wimmer told the board she has started an online filing system for Marion’s septic files by address. Board member Dot Brown said she will help with the arduous task of scanning that information, a project Wimmer said could last a year or two.

            Wimmer said that Norm Hills sent back comments on the dumpster regulations and recommended stricter definition of fines. Wimmer said Mashpee, for instance, fines $500 for the first offense of commercial waste haulers, graduating upward to $1,000 and then $5,000.

            The board approved the dumpster regulations, and a draft memo will follow and next month a public hearing.

            Health Nurse Lori Desmarais reported on Covid cases. As of January 20, Marion totaled 910 cases including approximately 100 active cases. There were 189 active cases over the two weeks prior. Marion’s positivity rate was at 11.8 percent. There were 158 cases in December. That number increased to 296 in the January 1-20 period. Desmarais said the increase is typical of the rest of the state. There has been one Marion Covid death in January.

            The Sippican nursing home had strong vaccination rates and continue to test both rapid and PCR, but it wasn’t known on January 20 if booster shots have been widely distributed.

            Desmarais said that the highest rates of positive tests are among age groups 16-19 at 68 percent and 30-49 at 69 percent. The senior population is avoiding the virus. There have been only 10 January cases among ages 75 and over (six of those at Sippican nursing home,) and only eight cases among ages 65-74.

            As of January 20, Sippican Elementary School had two personnel in its test-and-stay program, eight in quarantine and 14 who tested positives and were in isolation. Sippican has had 110 cases during the 2021-22 academic year.

            At Old Rochester Regional Junior High School, there were two in quarantine and six positives in isolation. There have been 71 cases since the school year began, and at the high school there were two in quarantine and 11 positives in isolation. There have been 194 cases since the school year began.

            Desmarais said the state is moving away from the test-and-stay program in favor of testing at home and only symptomatic testing in ORR schools.

            Tabor Academy has had 109 cases this academic year.

            Marion held a Covid booster clinic on January 21 at the Cushing Community Center.

            The next meeting of the Marion Board of Health was not scheduled at adjournment.

Marion Board of Health

By Mick Colageo

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