By Nancy Price
Frontline workers, including police officers and EMTs, were introduced to sudden, rapid changes this year as COVID-19 spread worldwide. Members of Southside police and fire departments not only adapted to a frequently changing environment; they also helped to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
WHITE RIVER TOWNSHIP FIRE DEPARTMENT REDUCES SPREAD OF COVID-19
Department members worked together to prevent the spread of COVID-19 with the use of a separate ambulance fully equipped to handle calls for those with the virus. In addition, the department’s ladder company was moved from Station 51 to the former Station 53/headquarters to comply with the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendation of limiting gatherings of 10 or more people. “We’ve not had a single case of COVID-19 in our department,” said Jeremy Pell, chief of the White River Township Fire Department. “I’m extremely proud of the department. I think the staff got their focus on the right priorities and adapted to it very well.”
BEECH GROVE FIRE DEPARTMENT ADOPTS HANDS-FREE CPR
The Beech Grove Fire Department also works to reduce the spread of the coronavirus by using LUCAS chest compression systems, which allows for hands-free CPR. LUCAS devices are applied after a backboard is placed under a patient, attaching both sides of the device, pressing the plunger to the patient’s chest and then turning on the machine. “It allows the crews to help focus on overall patient care during a cardiac arrest situation knowing that high-quality CPR is being delivered with correct depth compression,” said BGFD Chief Robert Cheshire. “We are thankful to have them in our community.”
GREENWOOD FIRE DEPARTMENT’S NEW STATION
Southside improvements this past year also included a new station for the Greenwood Fire Department. Station 93, now located near Freedom Park. “The new station is 12,719 square feet and can sleep a total of 10 people (eight firefighters and two EMS personnel),” said Chad Tatman, communications coordinator/public information officer with the GFD. “The old station 93 was less than one-third of that size and was built and designed back when GFD did not have 24-hour personnel.”
NEW GREENWOOD CHIEF OF POLICE
The Greenwood Police Department experienced a significant staffing change a few weeks ago, as former police chief John Laut retired after more than 30 years. New Greenwood Police Chief James Ison, who was hired by the department in 2001, has served as a patrolman, field training officer, instructor, SWAT team member, sergeant, deputy chief and assistant chief. He was awarded the Medal of Valor in 2011. “I would like the readers to know that I am proud and honored to be their police chief,” Ison said. “Their safety and well-being is my top priority and a responsibility that I do not take lightly.”
IMPD MOURNS THE LOSS OF A ROLE MODEL
In April, the IMPD Southwest District mourned the loss of Officer Breann Leath, 24. Leath, a Southport High School graduate, was shot and killed after responding to a domestic disturbance call on the east side. “Always the shining example of what an IMPD Officer should be … Doing the right things for the right reason,” stated an IMPD Facebook post.