Backing the Chester County Public Safety Training Facility
Some of Chester County’s first responders leadership team includes (from left) James R. McGowan, president, Chester County Police Chiefs Association; Leo Scaccia, president, Chester County EMS Council; Joel Gramling, president, Chester County Fire Police Association; Edward Toner, president, Chester County Fraternal Order of Police – Lodge 11; and Raymond Stackhouse, president, Chester County Fire Chiefs Association.
10-Year Anniversary Grant: Backing the Chester County Public Safety Training Facility
When all goes smoothly in an emergency, various types of first responders—police, fire, fire police and emergency medical technicians—work together in responding to incidents ranging from car accidents and fires to catastrophic disasters. In the other four Delaware Valley counties, these professionals and volunteers prepare together at unified training facilities. After 20 years of planning and fundraising, for the first time this year Chester County’s first responders have their own place to train together: the new Chester County Public Safety Training Campus.
This past September the main building at the 90-acre county training facility opened in South Coatesville. Once the complex’s tactical village is completed in 2013, 5,000 first responders will annually complete 80,000 hours of required training. All the different types of first responders will train together in the same ways they respond to real-life incidents.
“We can stage a mock auto accident that involves fire department first responders, EMS responders and police, just as they respond on a normal day when someone gets in an accident on the Rt. 30 Bypass,” says Beau Crowding, Chester County Emergency Services’ deputy director for fire services. “We can train together to respond to such situations instead of working it out during the height of an actual situation.”
With a $400,000 grant for the center’s capital needs and an additional five-year, $200,000 grant to fund its training programs, BHF has taken a lead role in funding the $19.1 million facility. “The foundation has been phenomenal,” says Michael Grigalonis, the Chester County Economic Development Council’s chief operating officer. “They were one of our earliest supporters, and outside of public funding, their grants are by far the largest we have received. Equally important, they’ve been incredibly supportive in helping us pitch the project to other potential funders.”
What happened July 3 to young D.J. Myers illustrates that none of us can predict when or if we may ever need the assistance of first responders who will train at the new facility. D.J. was practicing with his Coatesville Country Club swim team when a teammate noticed the talented swimmer on the bottom of the pool. Alerted, assistant coach Dave Trionfetti quickly dove in and pulled Myers out. He was unconscious but still breathing shallowly. While someone called 911, a mother who is a nurse/respiration therapist determined correctly that Myers had suffered a seizure and worked to keep him safe while waiting for first responders to arrive.
Within seven minutes of the 911 call, all of the following had arrived: West Caln Township police officers; two medics from Brandywine Hospital; two professional firefighter/EMTs from the Westwood Volunteer Fire Company’s satellite ambulance station at the Wagontown Volunteer Fire Company; and Wagontown firefighters. The medics and EMTs provided D.J. with supplemental oxygen while they transported him via ambulance to The Chester County Hospital, which has a pediatric wing. During that ride he began to talk, and his condition continued to improve at the hospital and, later, at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Although another seizure is still possible, the Bishop Shanahan High School freshman is doing so well that he plans on swimming for his school’s team.
“We feel incredibly lucky,” says his mother, Lindsay Myers, who arrived shortly after the ambulance did. “Everyone was top-notch. They responded quickly, did what they needed to do and did it well.”
Our goal at the foundation is to make sure that our dedicated first responders get the best possible training so that stories like D.J.’s always end on a positive note.
The Meyers family left to right: Don, Hannah, D.J. and Lindsay
“We can stage a mock auto accident that involves fire department first responders, EMS responders and police, just as they respond on a normal day when someone gets in an accident on the Rt. 30 Bypass,”