Fire department invests in new tech
Of the 8,258 calls that the Brooklyn Park Fire Department responded to in 2020, 6,065 were for medical emergencies.
With a majority of the department's work requiring tools beyond fire extinguishers and high-pressure hoses, Brooklyn Park recently invested more than $100,000 in new technology, including an automated CPR device and an elevated CPR positioning system that raises a patient's head and thorax to drain blood away from the head to avoid the risk of concussion.
Chief T. John Cunningham said in a news release that the technology "is an investment into the lives of those we serve."
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Cunningham said, the department needed to change how it operated on a day-to-day basis because of a significant increase in out-of-hospital cardiac arrests across the country. More than 475,000 people die in the United States from cardiac arrest each year. The new technology allows firefighters to provide pre-hospital emergency care while out in the field.
Devices are now deployed in all first-due fire engines in Brooklyn Park. Firefighters are also trained to respond to medical emergencies and are nationally certified emergency medical technicians.
Lawn signs say thanks to former mayor
Wayzata's Highlands neighborhood broke its custom of avoiding political lawn signs a week ago, lining front yards with a display paying tribute to their neighbor and former Mayor Ken Willcox.
Willcox announced in 2020 that he would step down from city government at the end of the year after serving 12 years as mayor and four on the City Council.
Many neighborhood residents are active in local politics, serving on the council and city commissions, said Christine Plantan, who organized the event. Most of the neighborhood's 46 households participated.
With pandemic restrictions, the neighbors couldn't gather to honor Willcox in person, Plantan said, but came up with the signs tribute because "we wanted to thank him for his service to the city."
They also hope the signs encourage others to enter public service.
Police complete body camera rollout
The Richfield Police Department has fully implemented its new body camera program.
The department's body cameras — a 6.8-ounce model called the Motorola WatchGuard V300 — will be worn primarily on officers' chests and will record their entire shift. The recording will be retained by a new department employee, a police data and media specialist, a Richfield news release said.
The department began integrating body cameras into everyday operations in 2018. Before implementation, department officials conducted a survey, held a public meeting, attended a City Council hearing and had conversations with residents about use of the cameras.
The new equipment cost $195,000 in addition to the cost of hiring a new staff member. In 2024, new cloud-based storage will have an additional cost of $70,000 annually.
Officers completed three trainings before receiving their body cameras, the news release said.