"We have 30 volunteer EMTs...they're truly dedicated, and that's something to be proud of, because a lot of towns don't have that many," said Chatfield Ambulance director Sue Kester as she spoke to Chatfield's city council last Monday evening. She updated the councilors on ambulance news upon the approach of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week this week.

Kester presented a list of the service's needs and wishes, including the need for new radios in the ambulances. The current 800-megahertz radios the service has in both its trucks allow only the emergency personnel driving and riding in the front to communicate with hospitals. This leaves the emergency medical technicians (EMTs) assisting the patient to rely on relaying information to the driver or passenger.

She noted it would be prudent for the service to wait until it purchases a new ambulance to replace the radios with dual-head models that would solve the communication problem.

Also, Kester added that during the tabletop drill held earlier this spring by the emergency services, it was determined that the ambulance service doesn't have enough handheld radios, making the purchase of at least four especially helpful.

The director spoke of programs and grants through several different entities that have or might provide defibrillators to the department and for public places. She mentioned it would be good to have them located in buildings such as the Chatfield Center for the Arts (CCA) and the Thurber Building, Chatfield's city hall - which were the beneficiaries of a defibrillator grant through Fillmore County.

Kester added that she is in the process of writing a grant through Mission Lifeline, an organization supported by the American Heart Association, that could potentially provide funds for Chatfield's service to buy 12-lead defibrillators, devices that allow for continuous, transferrable defibrillation care from the time a patient is recognized as suffering a heart attack to the time they arrive at the emergency room.

Kester said, "I'm writing a grant for $25,000 for one defibrillator, and I'm pretty confident Chatfield will probably be awarded that $25,000. We have approximately $19,000 to $20,000 slated to go toward new defibrillators, and since we have two trucks, we need two defibrillators. The ones we have are almost 15 years old."

Councilor Mike Urban inquired, "The ones we have at the art center...who's responsible for them?"

Kester replied that the facility is to have a designated person checking its donated defibrillator weekly and, currently, the ambulance service is mostly responsible for overseeing the medical direction related to the units' use.

On the ambulance service's wish list is a new device that measures carbon monoxide and dioxide and blood oxygen levels - useful when the ambulance accompanies the fire department on calls to provide rehabilitation to firefighters who are most at risk for heart attacks after having fought a fire.

Additional items include expansion boards for ambulance cots, at a cost of $1,400 each, to provide greater comfort for patients who may not be as narrow as the ambulance cots themselves.

The council agreed to allot funding for two cot expanders and four handheld radios at this time, and Kester thanked them for their time as they commended the ambulance crewmembers for their dedication.

She concluded by saying, "We've got a super crew."

New restroom discussed

The matter of whether to build a restroom next to the former Senior Dining room in the Thurber Building was essentially tabled after some discussion regarding the cost.

City Clerk Joel Young explained the restroom was in the renovation plans a decade ago when city hall was renovated but was shaved from the budget at that time.

Recent consideration has been made to actually install a restroom there - particularly handy since the building's restrooms are downstairs - but determining cost and how those costs might change as the plans for the restroom are developed has slowed progress.

Young pointed out that the project was originally estimated to cost $3,400, but with the installation of an exhaust fan and repairs to the wall where a window used to be, costs inflated to over $7,000.

However, while the city does not have to get multiple bids for projects under $25,000, Young acknowledged that already choosing one contractor might put the city in an "uncomfortable" position.

Mayor Russ Smith posited that the restroom question ultimately comes to a decision of whether the city would like to build a "Taj Mahal bathroom, or just one that works."

Councilor Robert Pederson suggested that the matter be tabled until the next meeting.

Maintenance report

City maintenance foreman Tony Lammers compared the cost of making repairs to a mowing deck the city already owns - at $1,600 - to the cost of purchasing a like-new used mowing deck that belongs to the city of Spring Grove, at $2,550.

He related that if the city were to buy the deck that belongs to Spring Grove for $450 less than Spring Grove's asking price, the public works department would have spare parts from the mowing deck it already owns to repair the like-new deck that would be installed on a piece of equipment the city bought last year.

Councilors approved that request, also hearing that Lammers is still comparing the cost of new and used hockey boards to make improvements to Chatfield's hockey rink.

Council reports

Smith shared a proclamation marking May as Historic Preservation Month, acknowledging the value of historic buildings within the city.

Young outlined the results of the spring cleanup trash collection - citing that over 14 tons of unwanted items were collected this time, and that the cost for disposal was approximately $12,000. However, Smith observed that while "it's a chunk of change," it is also "something people use to keep Chatfield beautiful."

The council also voted to set a public hearing for the development of Municipal Development District 3 for June 23 - the hearing concerns the development of Chatfield's industrial park.

The council welcomed Chatfield Lions Club President Dean Hilsman, who requested permission for the club to use part of Mill Creek Park for mutton-busting, "something like a rodeo" that involves young children competitively attempting to round up sheep, during Western Days. The councilors were amused by the prospect and expressed their interest in seeing the event when it takes place Thursday, Aug. 7.

Finally, the council congratulated water supervisor Brian Burkholder and his crew for receiving an award from the American Water Association and the Minnesota Rural Water Association.