County signs agreement to provide EMS standby at wind farms




During a special meeting Monday, the Finney County Commission agreed to sign a contract with Renewable Energy Systems Americas Inc. to allow the county Emergency Medical Services to provide on-site standby during the construction of a wind farm over the next 10 months.

RES is building 110 wind towers as part of Buffalo Dunes Wind Farm on land in Haskell and Grant counties with a transmission line running into Finney County. Finney County EMS will provide an employee at the building site to respond if a construction worker is injured, prepare them for transport and call in other emergency responders to make the transport to a medical facility.

EMS Director Joe Hopkins said Grant and Haskell counties would be used to provide transport because they are closer than Garden City, or an EagleMed helicopter.

The county also agreed to purchase a six-wheel, off-road ambulance, which will allow for better maneuverability and access in the rugged terrain around the work site at a cost of $51,995 and to hire a part-time office manager to help with paperwork. One regular EMS employee will staff the office whenever work is under way at the site on 12- and 24-hour shifts through the end of January 2014.

The off-road ambulance will be used to get to the injured and then transport them to a location where a normal ambulance can then take them to medical facilities, according to Hopkins.

RES is paying the cost of labor, supplies and equipment. Hopkins estimated the county could see between $37,000 and $175,000 in profit by the end of the contract, depending on how many hours EMS is at the site. The lower number is based on a 12-hour work day, five days per week. The larger number is based on EMS personnel being there 18 hours per day, every day. EMS will have personnel on site whenever there is construction going on.

In other business, commissioners learned the proposed renovation of the exhibition building will cost more than anticipated.

An estimate last October put the cost at $707,000. But architect Blaine Davis said Monday a revised estimate places the cost closer to $884,000. Davis bases the new estimate on bids received for a recent project in Dodge City in which the painting numbers were double and labor costs were higher than expected. There are also some added costs for changes the commission asked to look into last month on the exhibition building project such as improving the ventilation system and suggestions to improve the wireless networking capability of the building.

The project includes interior and exterior improvements. On the outside, work would include improving the south vestibule and canopy, the east vestibule and table/chair storage, doors and hardware and painting. Interior work includes an insulation retro-fit of the roof and walls, catering kitchen improvements and painting, mechanical unit heaters and lighting.

The county has about $850,000 available in this year's budget for the project from reserve funds and county sales tax. County Administrator Randy Partington said another possibility is to use a lease-purchase agreement to finance the project at a low interest rate over two to four years. The commission took no action Monday on which method they intend to use to pay for the project.

Commissioners asked Davis to compile project specifications and prepare bid documents for review, a process Davis said may take about 30 days.

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