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Did You Know: SVFD had 80 Responses and LLPD 533 in June (Liberty Lake)

in Did You Know/Public Safety
Did You Know Public Safety

Spokane Valley Fire Department had 80 responses in the month of June for the Liberty Lake response area. It was a pretty typical month with a variety of calls that were predominately medical calls.
Source: Spokane Valley Fire Chief  Bryan Collins reporting to Liberty Lake City Council on July 2, 2019

 

Liberty Lake Police Department responded to 533 calls for service in the month of June. One of those led to a DUI arrest on a golf cart on Harvard Rd.
Source: Liberty Lake Police Chief  Brian Asmus reporting to Liberty Lake City Council on July 2, 2019

Have a Heart – PulsePoint Recruits Residents to Save Lives

in Featured/Public Safety
Chief Collins SVFD

In February 2014, the chances of surviving sudden cardiac arrest in Spokane County received a welcome uptick.

That’s when PulsePoint, a revolutionary app alerting responders to incidents of cardiac arrest in their general vicinity, was introduced locally. Responders could include anyone from the average resident familiar with CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to an experienced firefighter equipped with a personal AED (Automated External Defibrillator) that analyzes the heart and delivers an electric shock to help restore proper rhythm.

PulsePoint calls attention to a cardiac arrest occurring in a public space within a quarter-mile to a half-mile radius of app subscribers while also identifying nearby AEDs that can be used to assist the person in crisis.

With an average of 1,000 cardiac arrests occurring each day in the U.S., the idea of ramping up the heart attack safety net made sense when PulsePoint was introduced a decade ago. The concept began as a sketch on a napkin in 2009 during lunch in the Bay Area. Representatives of the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District were brainstorming ways of merging Northern California’s high-tech savviness with local public safety efforts.

Spokane Valley Fire Chief Bryan Collins was working for the San Ramon agency at the time and recalls the energy and creative insight that went into developing the app. After Collins relocated to the Inland Northwest in 2013, it didn’t take long before he brought up PulsePoint as an option.

“I’d seen it catch on in the Bay Area pretty quickly and the success it had,” Collins recalls.

These days, nearly every fire agency in Spokane County offers the app. The Spokane Fire Department (SFD) was recently awarded with the Agency of the Year award by the PulsePoint Foundation for its effectiveness in utilizing the program. The Spokane Valley Fire Department (SVFD), meanwhile, earned a similar honor through the Spokane County EMS Council for posting a 74-percent cardiac arrest survival rate in 2018.

Collins says PulsePoint is just one of the reasons SVFD was so successful in saving lives last year. The agency teaches CPR at local high schools like East Valley and West Valley (Central Valley has its own program) and also offers regular CPR training to residents. Quick agency response time, well-trained paramedics and skilled hospital personnel also factor in, Collins says.

“Really, it’s all the components working like they should that are leading to these numbers,” he said.

SVFD and SFD are part of a PulsePoint “verified responder” pilot program that is also being tested in Tualatin, Oregon, Madison, Wisconsin and Sioux Falls, Iowa. Firefighters and other emergency responders are alerted to cardiac incidents within a broader radius than the traditional app, calling attention to an area that includes both public places and private residences. A total of 100 personal AEDs have been distributed to local emergency personnel as part of the program.

In April, Lt. Patrick Moore of SFD was at home watching TV when his PulsePoint app sounded. A cardiac arrest was taking place just down the street. Moore grabbed his AED and rushed to the home where he found a man in distress and applied the AED, followed by CPR.

The man was later transported to a nearby hospital and survived.

While PulsePoint responders can vary broadly in their experience related to emergency incidents, Collins points out that “anything someone can do is better than nothing.” Good Samaritan laws protect those who make rescue attempts from any liability.

Research shows that survival rates of sudden cardiac arrest decrease by 10 percent with each minute that passes after the initial incident.

“Time is so critical,” Collins said.

Liberty Lake City Hall AED
AEDs can be found throughout Liberty Lake, including City Hall (above). Subscribers to the PulsePoint app can access AED locations when responding to cardiac arrests.
The city of Liberty Lake currently has AEDs in place at the library, Trailhead golf course, City Hall and the police department. More have been purchased and will soon be installed at local parks. AEDs can also be found at commercial sites like the Meadowwood Technology Campus, Premier Manufacturing, STCU headquarters and more.

“This is a proactive way for the city to do what we can to help our residents until paramedics arrive,” said City Administrator Katy Allen. “We want to have AEDs readily available.”

PulsePoint subscribers can help update the local AED map by adding and updating sites where the device is located. Each AED includes directions on how to use the device.

“It’s pretty simple,” Allen said.

Allen has been a PulsePoint subscriber for three years now. She appreciates the feature that alerts her to local incidents ranging from traffic collisions to fires to ambulance responses.

“It’s helpful to know about the events in the city that are public impacts,” Allen said. “Sometimes I hear a siren and I can look at the (PulsePoint) map and see what’s happening.”

Collins, a Liberty Lake resident, says the mission of PulsePoint resonates with the human instinct to step up in times of need.

“I think that’s our default when we see something, we want to help,” he said. “The thing is we come up with these impediments like ‘I’m not trained’ or ‘I don’t know how.’ Yet, innately as humans, we do want to help each other.”

To learn more about PulsePoint or to sign up for the free app, visit pulsepoint.org.

Bear Spotted on the Liberty Lake Loop Trail

in Featured/Other News/Public Safety
Liberty Lake bear tips

Did you know that American black bears are common in this area and in most of Washington?

Some confusion comes from folks not realizing there is a lot of variability in the color of black bears—they can be a lighter “cinnamon” brown, dark brown, black, and even a combination of these.

Carrie Lowe, Assistant District Wildlife Biologist with the WA Dept. of Fish & Wildlife, states “We do have a couple of small populations of grizzly bear in Washington; the closest population to us is in the Selkirk Mountains in northeastern Pend Oreille County.  A few grizzlies have been observed in Stevens & Ferry counties as well.”

There are no known black bear population estimates for the area because the population naturally fluctuates with factors such as weather conditions and the resulting food availability. The WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife tend to get more reports of bear activity in the vicinity of people during periods of scarce natural food: early spring and late summer-fall, especially in years with drought conditions. This is sometimes perceived as an increase in the bear population.

Lowe states, “Bear can be active any time day or night.  During hot days they tend to be more active at dawn, dusk and at night when it is cool and rest during the day.  However, during the late summer and fall when they are packing on weight for the winter, they will be up feeding almost around the clock. Bear that get in to trash and other human food sources tend to do so at night, but can quickly get comfortable enough around people to do it during the day. Also during late spring and early summer, juvenile male bears may roam considerable distances looking for a territory and mature males will be roaming looking for mates, so people may be more likely to encounter a bear then.”

Bear usually avoid people as much as possible. If you see one while out hiking and it is unaware of you, it is recommended you just move away quietly. Lowe advises, “If it is aware of you or starts to approach, talk in a calm voice (don’t scream) and clap your hands. Keep your group together and back out of the area slowly—do not run. Usually the bear will run off. If the bear continues to approach, stand your ground and get your bear spray ready, use it when the bear is about 30 feet away. Do not climb a tree—black bear are excellent climbers. In the unlikely event of an attack, do not lay down and play dead but fight back and spray bear spray in the bear’s face. The exception to this is a defensive attack: a sow defending cubs, which is rare for a black bear. In that case, do not fight back but lay face down with your hands behind your neck and stay quiet until the bear leaves.”

Hikers should carry bear spray and have it easily accessible, such as on their waist belt or a chest harness. Do not leave it in your backpack, as you will not likely have time to dig it out when you need it.  Also, carrying bear spray doesn’t help if you don’t know how to use it. 

Lastly, Lowe states, “If you are recreating in bear habitat, which includes much of the natural areas surrounding Liberty Lake, it is inevitable that from time to time people will see a bear, and just seeing one is usually not a reason to report it.  If you have any encounter with a bear where it behaved aggressively or you felt threatened, whether at home or on the trail, you should report it to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.  Always report a bear that gets into your vehicle, home, building, pets or livestock to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife immediately.  In the case of an emergency or on weekends or outside normal business hours, call 911 and the appropriate personnel will be dispatched.”

Always keep this in mind: Ways for hikers to avoid an encounter with a bear include keeping their dog leashed at all times, hiking in groups, and making noise to avoid startling a bear.  

LLPD Copes with Steady Decline in Applicants

in Featured/Government and Politics/Public Safety
Liberty Lake police car

Chief Brian Asmus can remember a time when as many as 70 hopefuls would apply for one officer position with the Liberty Lake Police Department (LLPD).

That was over a decade ago.

When two openings emerged recently at the agency, only five qualified applicants stepped up to the plate.

The scarcity of law enforcement recruits is not unique to Liberty Lake. According to the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), Seattle saw a 50-percent drop in applicants last year despite a starting officer salary of $79,000.

“There’s lots of thoughts about it,” said Asmus, who has overseen LLPD since late 2001, the year Liberty Lake was incorporated. “It’s a national issue, not just a local issue or a Washington issue. A lot of it has to do with the negative attention law enforcement has received.”

LLPD did bring on two officers earlier this year — Tuan Nguyen and Stephanie Scheurer. There will be 13 full-time staff after the latest pair of hires join the force.

Asmus said he would like to add one more officer by the fall. Within the past year, two Liberty Lake officers have left for the Cheney Police Department while a third resigned.

Early attrition continues to be a challenge for many agencies across the country, according to research by PERF. A survey of nearly 400 police departments nationwide last year found that 29 percent of officers who left their jobs had been employed less than a year while nearly 40 percent had been on the job less than five years.

Asmus is not ignoring the trends as he works to keep his team stable and emotionally well. He has implemented new programs providing mental health sick leave and conducting regular check-ins with awareness of issues like PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).

Asmus stepped up to fill gaps after several departures in 2018, covering 12-hour patrol shifts himself. In 2002, the first full year of LLPD, Asmus and three officers patrolled the streets. The city’s population was around 3,500 at the time. It’s now closer to 11,000.

As for the drop-off in resumes, Asmus said he has decided against offering signing bonuses like a number of agencies on the west side of the state.

“You get people just chasing the dollar and we don’t want that,” Asmus said. “I’m looking for people who want to serve this community and be here for the right reasons.”

Asmus notes that recruiting worthy officer candidates these days resembles the work a college coach might do to sign a top recruit.

“Law enforcement is different from when I started back in the 90s,” Asmus said. “Now, you’re not only recruiting the officer, you’re recruiting their family.”

Former City Council Member Judi Owens remembers the discussions about enhancing public safety leading up to the successful incorporation vote in November 2000. She and her husband Charlie have called the community home since 1992.

“Before incorporation, there was just one county patrol car covering this area,” Owens recalls. “They were spread pretty thin. I think people realized we needed more public services, not just law enforcement, but our own road maintenance, library and more. It was a matter of keeping our tax dollars at home and funding those services.”

Owens said the inaugural City Council quickly recognized the importance of funding law enforcement and making public safety a top priority.

“We talked to Spokane County about contracting but it didn’t pan out,” she said. “I’m glad we went the way we did starting our own department. Brian has done a tremendous job and I think we have an outstanding police department.”

Asmus said he has always felt fully supported by the city when it comes to keeping his agency sufficiently staffed and equipped.

“The support has always been there,” he said.

As for the future of LLPD, Owens said there is one eventual vacancy that will be difficult to fill.

“I don’t really want to think about Brian retiring,” she said. “When you think about hiring a chief that fits in and has the community’s respect like he does – it’s going to be challenging.”

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