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Dunkirk first responders trained in use of opiate antidote, fire chief says

DUNKIRK – Emergency responders from the Dunkirk Fire Department have been trained to use the anti-opiate drug Narcan.

Fire Chief Michael Edwards reported at the Dunkirk Public Safety Committee meeting Thursday in City Hall on the new availability of the antidote, also known as Naloxone, which is used when someone has overdosed on an opiate-related drug such as heroin.

Edwards said he is working with the Chautauqua County Health Department to have a supply of the drug on hand for suspected overdoses. The drug can be given as a nasal, inhaled dose.

Also at the meeting, Edwards reported that emergency calls that are billed to insurance carriers amounted to revenues of $92,000 on 348 ambulance calls from Jan. 1 to June 30.

Edwards also provided an estimate on the updates needed to the Fire Department radio dispatch system. He said updates are required to maintain communication between the firefighters and their base and others. The cost estimate is $120,000.

The chief said he will seek grant funding to assist with the cost of the radio upgrades.

Councilman-at-large Wille Rosas asked for a list of all equipment that will need radio upgrades. Edwards said the department needs nine mobile radios and more portable units.

Rosas also suggested that consolidating services with other fire departments in the area be considered for discussion. Edwards said that talks about shared services have been helpful. “There are a lot of factors in police and fire merger,” Edwards said. “Logistics are the first thing that comes up.”

Edwards said he is willing to sit down and talk with other fire agencies about merging and consolidating emergency services.

There are 42 fire departments in Chautauqua County, he said, and an important issue is the lack of volunteer firefighters in the villages and rural areas. “It is time to seriously look at this problem and address a new way to do it,” he said of recruitment of volunteers.

In other business:

• Police Chief David Ortolano said the city will celebrate National Night Out on Aug. 4. The event has been held for 22 years. Police officers and firefighters will be out in neighborhoods to talk about safety and fire prevention. There will be a free family movie in Washington Park at 8 p.m. Ortolano said the event produces positive communication with residents.

Ortolano also spoke about detours around the construction on Lake Front Boulevard. He said that the contractor has set the detours up to minimize disruptions to traffic have occurred while work progresses on the break water at the shoreline.

• Steve Purol, animal-control officer, said he is reminding dog owners that licenses are required.

Purol also said he has responded to several complaints about homes where there were too many dogs or cats. One address had a total of nine unlicensed dogs, he said, and neighbors complained about the odor from dog droppings. Three adult animals, either dogs or cats, are the maximum number allowed at any address, even where multiple apartments are located, according to the city code. Purol said an exception is made for a litter for a couple of months.

Also, he said, the city’s cat-trapping program for feral felines has been activated.