LCRA, Pedernales Electric Cooperative Award $25,000 Grant for Emergency Equipment

LCRA and Pedernales Electric Cooperative representatives present a $25,000 grant to the Blanco Volunteer Ambulance Corps (Blanco EMS) for new hydraulic-assisted stretchers. The grant is part of LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program. Pictured, front row from left to right, are: Pat Clewell, Blanco EMS board vice president; Elaine Cross, Blanco EMS board president; Lori Burklund, office manager; and Tessa Schmidtzinsky, PEC representative. Second row, from left to right: Lori A. Berger, LCRA Board member; Brandy Broyles, emergency medical technician; Connie Granberg, Blanco EMS board member; Wesley Patton, paramedic; Rick Arnic, LCRA Governmental and Regional Affairs representative; and Ben Oakley, Blanco EMS chief. Back row, from left to right: Caroline Richardson, Blanco EMS citizen advisor, and Greg Hinton, Blanco EMS board treasurer.

Blanco Volunteer Ambulance Corps (Blanco EMS) will add new hydraulic-assisted stretchers to two of its ambulances, improving patient care and decreasing the risk of injuries to first responders, thanks to a $25,000 community development grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and Pedernales Electric Cooperative.

Blanco EMS is a nonprofit that provides emergency services to southern Blanco County. It will contribute $7,060 in matching funds toward the purchase of the new stretchers.

With manual stretchers, EMS providers must routinely lift up to 400 pounds, including the weight of the average patient, equipment and the stretcher itself. As a result, back injuries are common. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which monitors EMS provider injuries, reports the greatest portion of injuries involved overexertion, specifically during lifting.

Blanco EMS Chief Ben Oakley said he is troubled by the increasing number of back injuries his EMS providers are experiencing and is excited his team will now be able to transport patients on hydraulic stretchers.

“We are currently struggling with employees injuring their backs on a near-monthly basis,” Oakley said. “This stretcher upgrade will significantly decrease and potentially eliminate provider back injuries, and will create a safer environment for both our providers as well as patients. It really is a game changer. It’s so important. I don’t know how we’ve survived without them.”

Nearby North Blanco County EMS received an LCRA community grant for power-lift stretchers in 2010, and saw the number of staff back injuries plummet.

“I’m very thankful for this grant from LCRA and PEC,” Oakley said. “Working with North Blanco County EMS, I saw first-hand the difference transitioning from manual to hydraulic stretchers makes. It’s going to keep staff safe and make a huge difference for our community.”

The new hydraulic-assisted stretchers will help expedite patient care and minimize the risk of dropping a patient. The existing manual stretchers will be kept on reserve and available for use when needed until the end of their usable service life, which keeps more of Blanco EMS’ ambulances in service.

Blanco EMS responds to about 100 calls a month and is the primary provider of emergency aid to about 5,800 people in the cities of Blanco, Kendalia, Twin Sisters and Spring Branch; plus another 11,000 people in Blanco County through an automatic aid partnership with North Blanco County EMS. Blanco EMS also participates in the statewide Emergency Medical Task Force, and assisted with hospital evacuations and provided care in emergency shelters during Hurricane Harvey.

The community grant is one of a number of grants recently awarded through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program. The program provides economic development and community assistance grants to cities, counties, volunteer fire departments, regional development councils and other nonprofit organizations in LCRA’s wholesale electric and water service areas. The program is part of LCRA’s effort to give back to the communities it serves. Pedernales Electric Cooperative is one of LCRA’s wholesale electric customers and a partner in the grant program.

Applications for the next round of grants are due Jan. 31. More information is available at

About LCRA
​The Lower Colorado River Authority serves customers and communities throughout Texas by managing the lower Colorado River; generating and transmitting electric power; ensuring a clean, reliable water supply; and offering access to nature at more than 40​ parks, recreation areas and river access sites along the Texas Colorado River, from the Hill Country to the Gulf Coast. LCRA and its employees are committed to enhancing the lives of Texans through water stewardship, energy and community services. LCRA was created by the Texas Legislature in 1934. For more information, visit

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Source: LCRA Business News

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