MINOT, N.D. — Minot-area emergency responders need more training and personnel to better protect their growing communities, members of local fire and law enforcement agencies told one of North Dakota’s U.S. senators.
Agency heads aired their concerns with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp on Friday in Minot at a round-table meeting, the Minot Daily News reported.
Emergency responders told Heitkamp that a lack of funding, personnel and training is hampering rural agencies that have to deal with increased crime and accidents as result of the rapidly growing communities in western North Dakota.
Captain Mike Nason with the Ward County Sheriff’s Office said emergency responders are handling a much higher workload without any more resources. Nason said they could use a greater federal law enforcement presence in the U.S. Highway 2 corridor, particularly to combat illegal drugs.
“Clearly, they are doing a lot more with no more help,” Nason said. “What they need is more bodies.”
Emergency managers said rural fire departments are especially lacking in staff and funding.
“We have a couple of them that don’t even have base station radios,” Ward County emergency manager Amanda Schooling said. “Since they are all volunteers, they don’t have time to do grant writing.”
Round-table speakers also voiced concerns about the need for more funding to train and equip emergency responders, who have to be ready to react to potentially hazardous situations. Surrey Rural Fire Chief Kevin Hochhalter said money often goes to the more heavily oil-impacted areas, even though oil trains travel east through Surrey, he said.
“As far as any kind of money, it seems everything stops at Minot,” he said.
Information from: Minot Daily News, http://www.minotdailynews.com
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