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West Newsmagazine 4-11-18

Local news, local politics and community events for West St. Louis County Missouri.

FACEBOOK.COM/WESTNEWSMAGAZINE WESTNEWSMAGAZINE.COM April 11, 2018 WEST NEWSMAGAZINE I NEWS I 11 Legislators talk transportation during Progress 64 West luncheon By BRIAN FLINCHPAUGH The topic was transportation when business and government leaders gathered on March 30 for the Legislative Update luncheon sponsored by Progress 64 West, a civic organization dedicated to improving life along the I-64 corridor in St. Louis and St. Charles counties. Moderated by John Nations, president and CEO of Bi-State Development Agency, the topic quickly turned to road improvements and how to pay for them. One potential answer is Missouri Senate Bill 617 that its sponsor, Sen. Bill Eigel [R-District 23], called the “largest tax cut in the history of the state of Missouri.” SB 617 could raise Missouri’s motor fuel tax to fund road improvements while lowering the state’s income tax and corporate tax rates. Eigel, who represents an area near Weldon Spring in St. Charles County, said his bill – tax overhaul legislation – sailed through the state Senate last week with little debate and was advancing toward final passage. The bill was one of a number of legislative options for raising money for transportation discussed at the luncheon by a panel that included Sen. Jill Schupp [D-District 24], Rep. Bob Burns [D-District 93] and Sen. Dave Schatz [R-District 26] in addition to Eigel. Eigel’s bill would lower the state’s 5.9 percent income tax rate to 5.25 percent for most state taxpayers. To offset the cuts, the state would end the federal individual and corporate tax deductions and cap lowincome tax credits at $135 million. The bill also would phase in an 8-cent increase in the state’s 17-cent motor fuel tax along with a consumer price index adjustment to those fuel taxes until 2025. Eigel said his bill would provide an extra $2.5 billion for roads and bridges over the next 10 years. “I think we have a good product here,” Eigel told luncheon attendees. However, he questioned whether the state’s voters would approve increases in motor fuel taxes. “I think, and I share this with a lot of my constituents, [that there are] concerns that increases in any kind of tax have not been, typically, well received,” Eigel said. “We polled, and I’ve seen very recent data that indicate that, if a vote on a fuel tax would go to the people, the results would not be affirmative. Offering insight at Progress 64 West’s Legislative Update were [from left] Bi-State Development Agency CEO John Nations, Rep. Bob Burns, Sen. Jill Schupp, Sen. Bill Eigel and Sen. Dave Schatz [Bryan Schraier photo] “What I’m trying to do with Senate Bill 617 is offer an avenue where we can see a short-term increase in fuel tax to provide [transportation] funding, [while] at the same time, what we’re doing is as a part of a broader tax measure that will lower the overall tax burden for taxpayers.” But Eigel’s enthusiasm drew a tepid public response from at least one local legislator. Schupp, although lauding Eigel’s willingness to work with Democrats as well as Republicans on the more than 400-page bill, said, “It’s not a bill, at this point in time, I’m willing to support.” She said it’s necessary for state legislators to do something about roads and bridges given the reports about some See LEGISLATIVE UPDATE, page 43 New medical emergency alert system on the horizon in most of St. Louis County By JIM ERICKSON The PulsePoint smartphone app can alert those trained in CPR when their help is needed nearby. In what’s predicted to be a “win-winwin” situation, St. Louis County fire departments and fire protection districts soon may be implementing an alert system to bring potentially life-saving help to victims of medical emergencies even more quickly than is now the case. The Central County Emergency 911 dispatch center [CCE] is moving ahead with plans to launch the PulsePoint program, a fast-growing, nationwide system that notifies those trained in CPR whenever a sudden cardiac arrest [SCA] happens in a public place near them. CCE’s board has endorsed the concept and the center is in the final stages of gathering technical and procedural information for instituting the program and addressing any legal issues. The center’s operating committee, which includes a command officer from all of the agencies CCE serves, and the Greater St. Louis Fire Chiefs Association already have pledged their support of the effort. With the program, everyday citizens who know CPR can register to be included and can install the necessary app on their smartphone to be alerted if someone nearby has suffered an SCA. Notification would come from the dispatch center when the closest emergency medical service [EMS] also is asked to respond. The notice would go only to those registered and within a predetermined distance from where help is needed. The alert also can include information on where the nearest known automated external defibrillator can be found. The goal is to get someone to the scene as quickly as possible to start CPR on the patient. Statistics show that the sooner CPR is started the greater the odds are for the person’s survival. “Minutes and even seconds count in these situations and if someone is available to apply CPR before an EMS crew arrives, it can make a life or death difference,” said Mike Krause, chief of the Metro West Fire Protection District. Krause and Deputy Chief Chris McCarthy from the Fenton Fire Protection District, have taken the lead in gathering information about Pulse- Point and how it can be implemented in the area CCE serves. CCE provides fire and EMS dispatching services to more than 30 districts and agencies that cover most of St. Louis County and portions of adjoining counties. “What PulsePoint offers is a winwin-win scenario,” Krause said. “The first and most important win belongs to the cardiac arrest patient who survives the event to live a happy life with his loved ones. Another win “belongs to our citizens who will have an opportunity and involvement in making the community a safer place to live and work,” Krause continued. “Those who actually find themselves at the scene of a cardiac arrest and engage in early CPR and/or AED application may have a hand in saving a life. Most people live their lives without ever experiencing such an opportunity.” In addition, there is a win for “the fire and EMS agencies that will realize an improving rate of ROSC [return of spontaneous circulation],” Krause added. “Nothing creates more job satisfaction and sustained buy-in for our crews than saving a life. The other win for the agency is the opportunity to build or further strengthen its relationship with citizens through information and training connected with PulsePoint.” Implementing PulsePoint likely will be a budget-neutral project for CCE because most of the departments it serves already have pledged funding assistance for the program. Spread over all the agencies CCE serves, the initial cost is estimated at less than $1,000 per entity. In subsequent years, the annual expense is expected to be less than $600 per agency. The East Central Dispatch Center, which provides dispatch services to eight communities in eastern St. Louis County, already is implementing PulsePoint with funding provided solely by an anonymous donor. PulsePoint is a 501[c][3] organization, which makes private funding a viable option. Launched on the West Coast, the See ALERT SYSTEM, page 13