PSP, PRSC kickoff first responder equipment initiative

On Wednesday afternoon, the Permian Strategic Partnership and Permian Road Safety Coalition kicked off its $1.1 million First Responder Life-Saving Equipment Initiative.

The initiative began with a donation to the Northeast Midland Volunteer Fire Department. The donated kit included Jaws of Life, portable lighting, electronic road flares, gloves, face shield, H2S gas monitor and its respective charger.

PRSC Executive Director Scott Scheffler said there will be 158 kits given to 22 counties in the Permian Basin. Each kit cost about $20,000.

“We are about preventing accidents, but we also know that it takes time to change behaviors of drivers and it takes time to change company culture,” Scheffler said. “While we are doing that and while we are building that knowledge in these companies, we know the crashes are still happening and we want to get this stuff out there and onto the highways.”

The 22 counties in the Permian Basin include Andrews, Borden, Crane, Culberson, Dawson, Ector, Gaines, Glasscock, Howard, Loving, Martin, Midland, Pecos, Reagan, Reeves, Terrell, Upton, Ward, Winkler, and Yoakum Counties in Texas; and Eddy and Lea counties in New Mexico.

PSP president and CEO Tracee Bentley said Wednesday marks the first of many steps for equipment being donated to various first responders throughout the Permian Basin.

“Just knowing the impact that (this kit) is going to have right here and then multiply that by 150 times, it’s going to be amazing,” Bentley said. “I hope here shortly we will be able to measure the impact that it has. We will be able to see if there’s a greater need.”

One law enforcement agency that received a sneak peek at the kit was the Reeves County Sheriff’s Office.

Reeves County Sheriff Art Granado and Sgt. Anthony Roman spoke during Wednesday’s press conference about how the Jaws of Life has been used by deputies in the county to assist EMS prior to its arrival.

“We are already patrolling the area and we are there in five minutes,” Granado said. “Ambulance or fire department will be there in maybe 20 minutes. With those tools, we are able to extract people from vehicles.”

Northeast Midland Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jimmy Evans said the fire station is grateful for the donated equipment. A couple of his firefighters practiced with the Jaws of Life on a test vehicle outside the fire station.

Evans said during Wednesday’s press conference that his station is in the midst of collecting donations for a new facility. He said the new fire station would cost $1.3 million. Evans said he has collected $775,000 thus far.