Danville Fire Department is applying for a $130,000 grant from the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security.
The money would allow for a mobile decontamination trailer for the city. Currently, the city has a decontaminating tent center that needs time to set up before people can be treated.
So far, there have been four events where people in the Danville area had to be decontaminated, including the recent bed bug incident outside the jail and meth lab contaminations.
But Danville Fire Chief Woody Ball said the current decontamination system is not enough.
“We’ve got to be faster,”¿said Ball.
One of the challenges, Ball said, was decontaminating enough people so that facilities won’t be locked down.
“The challenge is that our hospital is a 222-bed facility,”¿he said. “We don’t want to risk shutting down.”
Ball mentioned an incident in Laurel County last November, when part of St. Joseph Hospital in Laurel County was locked down due to a family that had come in contact with a pepper-sprayed dog.
One of the main concerns with Danville is the fact that so many important locations, including the hospital and county schools, are located less than a mile from the railroad tracks, where cars come through daily containing potentially hazardous material.
Another challenge is that most times, it is not physically evident that a person is contaminated as well, and if a person enters an ambulance and a hospital, like in the Laurel County incident, cross-contamination can occur.
According to Ball, the application deadline for the grant is Friday, with the state having a total of $2,241,052 to allocate.
“We’re asking for a big chunk,”¿Ball said.
“But¿we’re doing everything possible (to get this grant). We have a pretty good chance.”
The department should know by Nov. 14 if it will receive the grant.
On Thursday night, Walnut Street between Third and Fourth streets will be closed as the department and hospital partner to complete a disaster drill to determine how many patients can be decontaminated and be released in a realistic manner. The department hopes for 25, and Ball thinks 20 will be the right number, but there are doubts.
“About 10 will overwhelm us, seeing as we can only go so fast,”¿he said. “Setup time slows us down. And with only 10-12 firefighters, it’s a challenge.”