Castle Valley Comments
August 7, 2014
by Ron Drake
Aug 07, 2014 | 570 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last Wednesday, July 30, Castle Valley and probably others parts of the county were without power for nearly five hours. Unlike the next night, when we experienced a spectacular lightning show accompanied by rain, Wednesday seemed to be a clear and calm night and there was no apparent reason for a power outage. Officially, Margaret Oler of Rocky Mountain Power said the electricity went off at 7:07 p.m. and affected 590 customers and was restored at 11:51 p.m. She said that lightning damaged a power pole and insulators.

To affect so many people, the damage was probably at the beginning of the line where it leaves the Rattlesnake Subdivision south of Moab. That 125-mile line, the longest in Rocky Mountain Power’s system, travels through the community of La Sal, continues over the mountain to Castleton, down into Castle Valley and proceeds along the Colorado River to the Utah border.

The next evening, Thursday, July 31, when we would expect to experience a power failure, the sky was alive with numerous lightning strikes accompanied by rain that delivered 0.21 inches of moisture at my house. A few members of the Castle Valley Fire Department were on duty and ready for a fire that could possibly result from the lightning, but none were reported except a lightning strike on Porcupine Rim that didn’t result in a fire. The folks in Thompson Springs were apparently without power until 5 a.m. Friday morning.

***

It was exactly one year ago that I wrote in this column regarding an announcement that plans were underway to form an emergency medical response team in Castle Valley. The proposed team, which was to be under the authority of the Grand County Emergency Medical Services and EMS director Andy Smith, is now nearly ready for operation a year later.

Last year, Paula Dunham, Grand County EMS assistant director of education, outlined a 60-hour course of instruction, which included all aspects of medical emergencies that the first responders might encounter. The cost of the course was $300 per person but a grant obtained by the Castle Valley Fire department, a grant from the town of Castle Valley and a donation of workbooks and other expenses from Grand County EMS covered most of the costs for the 18 Castle Valley students. The classes began last November and continued twice a week until February, when they all successfully completed the certification exams, which were administered by the Utah State Emergency Medical certification staff from Salt Lake City.

There were still many hurdles to clear before the emergency medical responders could begin servicing the community. An excess ambulance was furnished and stocked with supplies by Grand County EMS. An extra two-way radio was furnished by the Castle Valley Fire Department and the ambulance is now ready for service. It cannot be used to transport patients but will used to bring oxygen and supplies to an emergency scene or get patients out of severe weather if necessary.

A new paging system had to be installed at the Grand County Sheriff’s dispatch center to accommodate a paging system for the Castle Valley emergency responders. Test pages several weeks ago failed to activate the pagers and additional work by technicians was required to fix the problems. When another test was requested recently to verify that the problem was fixed and the pagers would activate, the dispatcher responded with a real page to a location in Castle Valley to transport a person to the hospital in Moab. That verified that the pagers worked, but none of the first responders were issued the equipment yet and they were not yet organized to respond.

The system is set up to activate both the Castle Valley first responders and the Grand County Emergency Medical Service technicians. The Castle Valley first responders, who will usually have certified EMTs on board, will arrive at a scene first to render immediate lifesaving aid until advanced emergency medical technicians arrive from Moab to transport patients to the hospital.

It has been a long process getting to this point but the residents of Castle Valley will be the beneficiaries of their efforts with much quicker medical response.

***

Thirty-five years ago this week, this column reported that the community welcomed a new family to their midst. Jeff and Trudine Whitney and their two children, Nicole and Benjamin, had recently moved onto their property and began building their home. A week later was the announcement that their third child, Levi, was born at Allen Memorial Hospital.

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