Community

Bellevue votes for fire truck purchase and gets a lesson on drug needles.

by Jennifer Sierra

At the city council meeting for Bellevue, Kentucky held Wednesday evening, the motion was made to purchase a new fire truck for the Bellevue Dayton Fire Department on the recommendation of the fire board. The motion was passed unanimously. Now the ball is in Dayton, Kentucky’s court. The vote will likely be a unanimous “yes”.

The city managers of Dayton, Kentucky and Bellevue have been looking at financial options to pay for the new fire truck.  Bellevue city manager, Keith Spoelker would like to get 4 or 5 banks to submit proposals for financing.  The city would like to have an 8-12 year payment proposal with payments kept around $36,000 a year, which is the amount the cities are supposed to budget for new fire equipment.

Chief Mike Auteri thanked Bellevue for their vote and also stated, “We didn’t get just one bid. We invited 5 different aerial manufacturers out to the firehouse. Either they can’t build what we need or their price was just outrageous. That is why we went with Rosenbauer. 23 years ago the aerial we have was $550,000.00 so we aren’t that much more 23 years later. Other departments aerials are a lot more but we don’t need one that big. So we do get it. Thanks again. We do appreciate it.”

Christmas Tree recycling will be December 28th through January 8th. Live trees can be dropped off at the public services department.

Stephanie Vogel the Director of Population Health with the Northern Kentucky Health Department, addressed council to talk about the Needle Exchange Program or Syringe Access Exchange Program that has been set up in Northern Kentucky. Due to the heroin epidemic in Kenton, Campbell and Boone counties, the health department is concerned with the increase in communicable diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis A and B. Ms.Vogel showed  a graph of information from St. Elizabeth hospital showing the overdose rise in the area. In 2011 there were 252 overdoses and now we are over 1100 overdosed in 2015. Northern Kentucky has the highest overdose rates in the state. She mentioned the big concern with used needles ending up in public spaces, like parking lots and parks. There are problems with the used needles not being disposed of properly and ending up injuring first responders or other innocent people.

The program that the Northern Kentucky Health Department has in place allows people to come into their facility and give used syringes to the facility for proper and safe disposal in exchange for clean syringes. The health department has a cap on how many needles they provide a patient at once but the goal is to make sure they get the infected needles off the street and disposed of properly. They also educate and counsel patients with the hope of getting off of drugs. They provide patients with sharps containers to help them dispose of their needles safely.

One paramedic spoke about the concerns first responders have with their personal safety at the scene of an emergency call, stating, “We see a lot of dirty needles. We have had incidents in the past with people getting stuck. That is one of our first concerns when we arrive at a a scene is scene safety. Where are the needles? We are trying to check on the patient, we are leaning down on the floor worried about getting a needle stuck in our knee or leg. It is a huge concern for us. We aren’t just worried about overdoses. Diabetics need to properly dispose of their needles.”

Police Chief Wayne Turner weighed in on the needle exchange. “Senate Bill 192 changed a lot with education-treatment and enforcement. Senate Bill 192 takes enforcement off the table and it is now education-treatment. We are going back to the same people time and time again. So I agree there has to be some type of solution to resolve this but right now we can’t arrest them. We have an addict that has overdosed and we get there and we can’t charge them or arrest them. We are seeing repeat offenders. From the police department perspective, our hands are tied.”

Northern Kentucky Health Department has a needle exchange program in their facility in Newport, Kentucky.

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