Park Ridge aldermen postpone purchase of emergency equipment
Updated: February 25, 2013 6:12AM
PARK RIDGE — Budgetary concerns have prompted Park Ridge to temporarily delay upgrading life-saving equipment used daily by city paramedics.
The City Council deferred approving the purchase of cardiac monitors/defibrillators at a Committee of the Whole meeting on Jan. 14 in order to determine how to pay the $153,000 price tag for the new devices without dipping into the city’s general fund.
The Fire Department’s current stock of five devices provide cardiac care and defibrillation therapy in the field.
Cardiac monitors/defibrillators monitor heart rhythms, blood oxygen saturation levels, and blood carbon monoxide levels, in addition to delivering counter shock to non-beating hearts and providing heart-pacing capability.
Last year the devices were used on nearly three-fourths of all emergency medical services calls, reported Fire Chief Michael Zywanski.
“Because of the demographic in the area, we do see a high percentage of cardiac and cardiac-related issues due to the age factor,” he said.
Fire officials had originally budgeted to replace the department’s eight-year-old units in fiscal year 2010, but were asked and able to extend their use by an additional three years, Zywanski said.
The expenditure, listed on capital-plan documents, was pushed to the current fiscal-year budget under the assumption they would be paid for with federal funds.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, however, denied Park Ridge’s grant request. Recent budget transfers to pay for payroll services, consulting and the testing of Fire Department recruits had further lessened the department’s capital fund.
Fifth Ward Alderman Daniel Knight pointed out the purchase would ultimately have a negative impact on the city’s general fund, which Finance Director Kent Oliven confirmed.
“I’m certainly not suggesting that we don’t need this equipment,” Knight said, “I just want to make sure we know what we’re voting on here because if this was supposed to be budget neutral by virtue of a grant, it’s not.”
When asked whether city’s current devices could sustain six more months, Zywanski said, “We could continue to use the existing equipment we have right now. Obviously I can’t predict a breakdown.”
The City Council directed him to research whether the city could wait until May to purchase the devices and to provide a recommendation at the next public safety meeting of Committee of the Whole.
City staff, meanwhile, could research ways to fund the expenditure now, said 2nd Ward Alderman Rich DiPietro.
“We are all in agreement that this needs to get done,” he said. “Let’s get it done properly.”