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Salvation Army closing emergency shelter in Ashland due to financial pressure

ASHLAND — The Salvation Army plans to close its emergency shelter in Ashland on March 31 because of financial pressures — a move that has other agencies scrambling for ways to fill the void.

An official with another agency said the shelter has capacity for 35 people.

“They have been full since June and sometimes had more than 35 people staying there, so there is a need in this area and we know that this closing is going to present a gap,” said Debbie Sivis, director of Shelter of Hope in Ashland. “Our shelter is designed with 10 apartments, so the concern is that we will be missing some temporary shelter beds that this area needs.”

In announcing the looming closure this week, the Salvation Army said in a news release that it “has always worked to be good stewards of community support. This has meant carefully balancing the needs of the community with the financial ability to meet those needs. At times this led to tough choices and reductions in service, most noticeably over the past year.”

Salvation Army officials said with the final numbers in after the vital year-end fundraising period, it was clear additional changes had to be made, which meant closing the emergency shelter in Ashland. It cost around $300,000 a year to operate the shelter.

“We are very grateful for the community’s support of the mission of the Salvation Army in Boyd County,” said Bo Sells, the divisional service unit director for the Salvation Army’s Kentucky and Tennessee Division.

The Salvation Army’s work in Ashland falls under Sells.

“Despite our efforts, the current level of service in Ashland is not financially feasible,” he said.

Sells said the organization will work with community partners to transition shelter residents to other agencies and programs.

United Way of Northeast Kentucky has offered to assist.

“We are still in the early stages right now on what the community’s next step will be,” said Jerri Compton, the organization’s executive director. “We have already talked with the leadership of Salvation Army and its local advisory board members to gather information.”

Compton said the organization is working on getting more information that outlines what resources and organizations may be available for those needing shelter after March 31.

“We are working on what a temporary solution might be, as well as a possible long-term solution,” she said.

Compton said there are current efforts to organize a community forum for the next steps in the process.

“Most urgent is the ability to have some kind of emergency shelter in this area after they close,” she said.

Sivis said the Salvation Army’s emergency shelter has a dorm-style setup.

“They have a women’s dorm and a men’s dorm, as well as a family room for adults with children,” she said. “So now the question is, who are we going to find that can have this type of shelter?”

Sivis said her agency will miss the partnership they had with the emergency shelter.

“We used a coordinated entry process through CAReS (Community Assistance & Referral Service, in Ashland), and they helped us with that process,” she said. “We all worked together to get shelter for everyone, and they helped make that possible. We are going to miss them tremendously.”

Sivis said she is glad the emergency shelter is not closing in the middle of the winter.

“We are thankful for that, but this closure will still mean that there will be a lot more people out there seeking shelter until a solution can be found,” she said.

Action by waitress — an MU nursing student — saves woman's life

HUNTINGTON — A Marshall University student received a special award Tuesday because her quick CPR response while waiting tables at a local restaurant saved the life of a woman.

The American Red Cross presented Kelsey Seibert, a nursing student, with a Certificate of Merit, the highest award given by the Red Cross to individuals who use their training to save or sustain a life when they have no obligation to respond to a person in distress but do so regardless.

But for Seibert it’s not about the award — because of her actions, the woman, Patricia Trippet, is alive today.

“I saw the light come back into her eyes, and that moment will change my life forever,” Seibert said. “I’m a very humble person, and I do things out of the kindness of my heart whether they go unnoticed or not. This ended up not being unnoticed, and I appreciate it more than anything.”

On Sept. 16, 2019, Seibert was prepared for a typical day waiting tables at Texas Roadhouse, when Trippet fell unconscious and began to choke.

Seibert used the skills she learned during an October 2018 training from the Red Cross to clear Trippet’s airway, performing CPR until paramedics arrived.

“I saw the situation, and to be honest, my mind went blank. It was so many emotions at once that I couldn’t figure out which one I was feeling at the moment. I was scared, but at the same time, I was fearless,” Seibert said. “I had adrenaline pumping; I just stepped in and did what I had to do.”

At Tuesday’s ceremony, Trippet was surrounded by her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who all thanked Seibert for her quick response that saved their loved one’s life.

Kayla Boling, Trippet’s granddaughter, said the family will always consider Seibert an angel.

“I was speechless when I found out,” Boling said. “I just wanted to thank her; we all just wanted to grab her and hug her for saving my grandma.”

Boling said she hopes the situation inspires more people to be prepared for an emergency situation.

“I’m in the medical field and I’ve been trained, but if I had been there that day, I’m not sure I would have been able to react because it was my grandma,” Boling said. “I think everybody needs to be trained in CPR, on adults and children, because you never know where you’re going to be and need it. She didn’t think she was going to need it in a restaurant, but she did, and thank God Kelsey was there and stepped into action.”

Erica Mani, chief executive officer for the regional American Red Cross, said being able to present a lifesaving award is a special way to raise awareness of the impact training courses can have in the real world.

“It’s really exciting to us when we can take a story like this and spread the word that if you want to be a hero in your own community, you can be prepared by taking our first-aid or CPR course,” Mani said. “A lot of people get trained and know how to save a life, but it takes a special person to spring right into action and do what it takes to sustain that life before paramedics arrive.”

Those interested in receiving training can go to www.redcross.org for more information.

Lawrence EMS to upgrade security in wake of reported drug thefts

ROME TOWNSHIP, Ohio — The Lawrence County Emergency Medical Services ambulance district is spending $60,000 to upgrade security at its five ambulance stations around the county, according to Robert “Mac” Yates, executive director of the ambulance district.

A large amount of drugs was reported stolen last month from the ambulance station on County Road 107, according to a report from the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office. The exact amount of drugs and the value of the drugs weren’t included in the report filed Dec. 30, 2019.

Drugs reported stolen included morphine, fentanyl, Valium, ketamine and etomidate, according to the report. A VCR covering the area the drugs were held also was reported missing, according to officials. The case remains under investigation, Sheriff Jeff Lawless said Tuesday.

The new security upgrades were being installed starting this week, Yates said, and include cameras and electronic door swipes.

The drugs stolen were contained in a locked cabinet at the ambulance station in Rome Township. A lock was cut off to gain access to the drugs, according to the report.

The exact time of the theft wasn’t known. It occurred sometime between August and the end of the year, according to the report.

In West Virginia, the State Office of Emergency Medical Services requires that all controlled substances be stored in a tamper-resistant cabinet with double locks. Narcotics may only be stored on ambulances that are on-duty and inside a locked container with double locks.

Only the ambulance service’s medical director may give authorization for EMTs and paramedics to access the medication.

In Cabell County, the ambulance service stations are to be manned 24 hours a day. Paramedic supervisors are responsible for maintaining a secure station, including the overseeing of guests, according to the county’s general operating procedures.

The supervisors ensure that all the medicines stored in the locked cabinet are accounted for and that any discrepancies or thefts are reported immediately to their superiors, their medical director, police and the State Office of Emergency Medical Services.

In Kentucky, controlled substances must also be stored in a locked cabinet inside EMS stations when not in use, according to the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services. On an ambulance, all controlled drugs are stored in a locked storage box inside a locked compartment that is immediately accessible to personnel.