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Commissioners consider emergency program implementation requests, invest in theater upgrades

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Shawnee Co. commissioners heard presentations on Monday, specifically on implementing improvements to the county’s emergency management system and increasing the capacity of a local theater.

Emergency management personnel have requested that a program be implemented that should reduce the number of units responding to an emergency.

According to Nelson Casteel, an ambulance compliance officer for Shawnee Co., says that if the expedition had previously received a call about toe pain, American Medical Response (AMR) would have responded, along with a fire truck, police and first responders. However, if the nurse navigation program were implemented, each call would be directed to a medical nurse, where the nurse would ask a series of questions to determine the urgency of the situation and what assistance is needed.

“The call will be sent to emergency medical dispatchers, who will evaluate it, and if it meets the guidelines and requirements for speaking to a nurse and does not need an immediate response from an ambulance, then that nurse can work with that person to figure out how to best manage that person who has toe pain, or headaches, or those that are considered to be of lower acuity,” Casteel said.

Emergency management presented its case to the commissioners on Monday. By Thursday they will ask for approval to add this measure to the AMR contract to improve the emergency system.

“There’s always a shortage of resources, and our system here is no different,” Casteel said. “This will help get the right equipment to the right place at the right time, and that’s all part of the emergency medical dispatch triage they do. This will give them another tool in their toolbox so they can get help from these people, so they aren’t waiting around for all the extra time they might have to wait because of a lower priority call. All calls in Shawnee Co. are a priority, especially for me as an ambulance compliance officer, and will be important to those people, so we want them to get help as quickly as possible.

At Monday’s meeting, the Jayhawk Theater also asked the commissioners for assistance.

A Jayhawk Theater representative and president of Impact! Marketing Group, LLC, Joanne Morrell, says the theater expects to see an increase in events and patrons over the next few years. However, staff members are concerned about limited space and other limitations such as the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system. Therefore, he requested funds to increase employment and upgrade security measures.

The theater was originally estimated to need $2.7 million, but after reviewing the latest construction estimates, Morrell says $5 million may be needed to maintain the theater.

“We just received last week’s updated construction estimates, and that was a reality check,” Morrell said. “As you know, construction prices are still extremely volatile and with little sign of slowing or stabilizing, so what we initially told you about increased jobs and budget investment by about $2.7 million is now almost close to 5 [million]. This includes all necessary life safety features, according to our discussions with the fire marshal and looking at fire escapes, irrigation, HVAC, required access and egress. And it also includes a very urgent and essential piece to protect and seal the foundation, waterproofing the exterior.

Morrell concluded his presentation by saying he appreciates commissioners considering this request.

“Our commitment is to make sure it happens and is done right, and we just need a commitment. A domino is going to set things in motion, and we’re at a critical juncture, hence your support, which we deeply appreciate for your consideration for what would be a definitive game changer and catalyst to help at the very least increase our employment.” Morrell said.

To view more information about the organization’s request, click HERE for committee agendas.

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