Fisher River Ambulance receives donations of PPE

Representatives of the Aerospace and Vision companies and representatives from Fisher River Ambulance pose for a photo. Photo by Mati Bishop, The Montanian.

 

By Mati Bishop

 

Bridger Aerospace, Ascent Vision, and the Lincoln County Road Department have donated personal protective equipment in the form of face masks to the Fisher River Ambulance service to help keep their staff safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. The donations came after an incident where Frenchtown Fire Department personal were exposed to the virus when responding to a car accident.

The shipment of facemasks from Bozeman-based Bridger Aerospace and Belgrade-based Ascent Vision was flown into Libby Airport on April 16, within a week of Fisher River member, Cheryl Roediger, contacting the companies about  donations.

“In just a week we have seen tectonic shifts in many of the fundamentals of global life. It’s important for us to do our bit as a company and as individuals in these uncertain times,” said Bridger Aerospace CEO Tim Sheehy. “Bridger Aerospace is committed to providing support to local health organizations and emergency services. We have volunteered our services and resources to help combat the outbreak and flatten the curve. We will do this while we continue to prepare and maintain our fleet to effectively manage the 2020 wildfire season.”

In addition to flying protective masks to first responders who need them, Bridger has also committed personnel to helping build hospital beds in Bozeman, and the company is maintaining its aircraft fleet for emergency medical transportation and the delivery of critical supplies during the outbreak. All while maintaining their fleet’s readiness ahead of the wildfire season.

More masks, made by the Lincoln County Road crew, were donated through local emergency management efforts.

Fisher River Ambulance is based between Libby and Kalispell with one station near Happy’s Inn and another ten miles closer to Libby.  They provide fire and medical services with two ambulances and five medical personnel.

County health officer

encourages participation in Coronavirus testing 

Submitted by

Brad Black, MD

Lincoln County
Health Officer

 

All aspects of our lives have been through upheaval in this past month leaving most confused about what our future holds as we continue to adjust to life with Coronavirus.

First and foremost, we have been fortunate to be in a social and geographic setting where, so far, we have not experienced unsettling tragedy due to COVID-19 like other areas of the U.S. and around the world. During this period of physical distancing, our community and businesses have been remarkable in their efforts to help prevent the potential spread of infection.

The negative effects on our social and economic lives resulting from more extreme physical distancing have been offset by what has been accomplished across the U.S. to significantly reduced the mortality that otherwise would have been devastating. We can’t lose sight of the fact that COVID-19 is causing up to ten times the death rate that currently occurs with influenza, predominately in persons over sixty and those with compromising health conditions.

We now must look at the steps going forward to cautiously reduce restriction in activities allowing our communities to increasingly revitalize. The period of shutdown has created some critical space to understand the threat of COVID-19, slow down its spread, make significant changes in our personal behaviors, and allow the public health and healthcare system time to prepare to deal with the viral challenge, from prevention of larger scale epidemic to treatment of those that might  become infected and ill.

So how do we move forward? Without an effective treatment or vaccine expected for at least a year, we are left with maintaining the personal and social behaviors that are most essential to limiting spread of the virus such as hand washing, covering our coughs and sneezes, and staying home when sick. Varying degrees of physical distancing will also be necessary as guided by Lincoln County Health Department’s response to changing levels of viral spread.

How do we plan to measure the degree of viral spread in our communities? Testing is the answer.

COVID-19 will be with us for a number of years with hope that increasing immunity develops across our population and better yet an effective vaccine will reduce its impact. We should always assume the virus is around our community because of the observation that perhaps up to half of infected persons are not ill but they spread the virus.

Ongoing robust COVID -19 testing of all persons, whether ill or healthy, is essential for containing the rapid spread of the virus. An epidemic out of control would increase the threat to our proportionally large high risk community members and overwhelm our ability to provide care.

What is the Lincoln County Health Department’s plan for testing?

The current goal is to test over 1,000 people in south Lincoln County during the physical distancing order, and we are approximately half way there.

 

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STOKR event cancelled for 2020

volunteer opportunity, Brush with Kindness, to be rescheduled

By Brian Baxter

 

The Scenic Tour of the Kootenai River (STOKR) organizers have met with the Habitat for Humanity board and made the painful decision to cancel this year’s STOKR event due to concerns with COVID-19.

STOKR is held each year during the second full weekend in May. The bike ride is a fundraiser for the Kootenai Valley Partners Habitat for Humanity. It typically takes two STOKR events to build one home.

Every year, many volunteers help organize STOKR, and ensure its success. They donate store-bought and homemade sandwiches, cookies, pies, pasta, and more. EMT’s volunteer as well, to be on call for medical emergencies, and Libby’s Search and Rescue volunteers are always ready in case they are needed.

Last year, STOKR had 450 registered riders. On day one, 280 riders completed a longer, 90-mile, ride, and 76 completed a 45-mile ride. 187 of the cyclists then did a 37-mile ride on day two of the event.

The 26th annual STOKR was scheduled to take place on May 9 and 10. STOKR normally includes two days of bicycle touring and three choices for ride routes. All 446 riders have been contacted and given the option to have their checks mailed back, torn up, or the money put towards next year. Anyone with questions or concerns can contact Greg or Susie Rice at stokrmama@gmail.com or visit their webpage at www.stokr.org.

There was also a volunteer work option scheduled for Friday, May 8, but that project is also on hold at the moment waiting on developments in the Coronavirus situation. The group still plans to complete the work project this summer after the shelter in place orders are lifted.

This aspect of the STOKR event is called a Brush with Kindness, and it is a repair rather than build event for Habitat for Humanity. Using the same income restrictions, the Habitat Board has chosen a family that is not renting and needs help with repairs. This particular job involves roof work and exterior painting.

STOKR would like to express sincere thanks to all STOKR riders, volunteers, and sponsors for their continuing generosity and understanding.

Thanks to everyone’s help, the group has modern, state-of-the-art scaffolding to make this a safe operation. If you are interested in helping out on the work option, please email Don Rigney at donrigney@gmail.com or call him at 291-7993.

2019 STOKR participants, volunteers, and organizers pose for a photo at the Libby Area Chamber of Commerce. Photo courtesy of Susie Rice.

Troy High School senior awarded a Youth Serve Montana Scholarship

By McKenzie Williams

 

The Governor’s Office of Community Service (ServeMontana), Reach Higher Montana, and Montana Campus Compact (MTCC) were pleased to announce that 98 Montana high school seniors have been awarded $1,000 Youth Serve Montana Scholarships.

Troy High School senior, Mazzy Hermes, was one of the $1,000 scholarship recipients. She will be attending Montana State University in Bozeman in the fall.

According to a press release from Serve Montana, the Youth Serve Montana Scholarship was created to promote volunteerism among high school students.

Funds for the scholarships are available through support from Montana Campus Compact, a network of Montana campuses committed to community service; Reach Higher Montana, a nonprofit dedicated to helping students pursue and fund post-secondary education; and the Governor’s Office of Community Service, a state agency tasked with expanding and promoting community service in Montana.

“We are so excited to see another class of freshmen coming into Montana’s colleges and universities equipped with the passion and skills for community engagement,” said Andrea Vernon, Executive Director of MTCC. “

As our communities begin to rebuild from the COVID-19 crisis, it will be more important than ever to activate opportunities and engage students in relief efforts, she said.

Hermes told the Montanian, “I’ve been enrolled in the pre-med program there. I look forward to living on my own and exploring a new part of Montana. I’m going to miss my family, friends, and skiing at Turner Mountain every winter.”

All scholarship recipients completed at least 100 hours of volunteer service and many awardees exceeded 100 hours. The recipients all together, completed nearly 15,000 combined volunteer hours to Montana communities over the last year.

Kelly Cresswell, Executive Director of Reach Higher MT said, “We look forward to the future achievements of these Montana students as they continue their educational pursuits.”

Hermes said, “I volunteered on David Thompson Search and Rescue for four years, Turner Mountain Ski Patrol for three years, Troy High School Honors Society for two  years, and student council for four years.”

Congratulations to Mazzy for being awarded a Youth Serve Montana Scholarship. Thank you for your community service, and we wish you the best in college this fall.

Mazzy Hermes. Photo courtesy of Hermes.