- Early voting for the Nov. 7, 2017, City Council Election for Place 6 begins today and continues through Friday, Nov. 3. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 23-27; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 28; 1 to 6 p.m. Oct. 29; and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 30 to Nov. 3. Locally, early voting will be held at the City of The Colony Annex, 6804 Main St. For more locations and general information, visit votedenton.com. For more info about the City Council election, contact the City Secretary’s Office at 972-624-3106 or visit the city’s website at www.thecolonytx.gov. In addition to the City Council race, several statewide propositions are on the ballot, as well as bond initiatives for voters in Little Elm ISD.
- The Owl & Howl Prowl hits the Shoreline Trail from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night, Oct. 24. This is a great opportunity to learn about the many wildlife and native plants on the trail from a local expert. It is also a rare chance to traverse the trail after hours. The walk will be approximately 1-2 miles round trip. Bring water and dress for the weather; bug spray and binoculars are optional. Make sure to bring your flashlight. Participants are asked to meet at intersection of Lakeshore Boulevard and Lake Ridge Drive between 6:15 and 6:30 p.m. We encourage everyone to sign up for the event online. For more info, contact Danny Dill at 972-624-3159.
- Help make a difference in your community by joining volunteers from around The Colony and the entire nation during Make A Difference Day on Saturday, Oct. 28. On that day, volunteers in the City of The Colony will be working on a variety of local projects throughout the city, including: fence repairs, tree trimming, painting, graffiti removal, and trash and debris clean-up in city parks and along the Shoreline Trail. Volunteers will meet at 8 a.m. at Lions Club Park, 4800 Nash Drive. The event will last until noon. Light refreshments will be available at the conclusion. Participants must be at least 12 years old and are encouraged to register online. Please bring work gloves. Other project-related materials will be provided. For additional information, contact Danny Dill at 972-624-3159.
- Looking for ways to keep the kids active during the winter months ahead? Join The Colony Winter Youth Basketball League for kids ages 3-12. Registration is open until this Saturday, Oct. 21. You may register at The Colony Recreation Center (5151 North Colony Blvd.) or online at PlayTC.com. Registration is $65 for The Colony residents and $75 for non-residents. For more information, call Parks & Recreation at 972-625-1106.
- The Colony City Council meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17, at City Hall, 6800 Main St. The Council meets on the first and third Tuesdays of every month. Click here for the agenda. The Board of Adjustments also meets this week, at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18. View the agenda online.
- The Colony Parks and Recreation Department is partnering with Texas Parks and Wildlife to offer a camping workshop for the community! The workshop, called Texas Outdoor Family, will take place at Lake Ray Roberts State Park: Isle du Bois park. During the event, families will hike, geocache, fish, learn to cook in a Dutch oven and much more! No experience is required and all equipment is provided. Families only need to bring personal items and bedding. Equipment included: tent, cots, cook stove, pots and pans, utensils, etc. The cost per family of five is $75. Also included is food for the weekend. The workshop is on Nov. 18-19. Check-in begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday and cleanup is finished by 10 a.m. on Sunday. Register at PlayTC.com or by calling Parks & Recreation at 972-625-1106.
- Members of The Colony Public Library’s Local History Committee will be on hand to talk about the history of Bridges Cemetery and discuss its preservation and restoration plans, as well as answer questions about the history of the City of The Colony, during Twilight at Bridges Cemetery, 5 p.m. to sunset Saturday, Oct. 14. The cemetery is located at the corner of Morning Star and Chesapeake drives. Click here for more info, visit www.thecolonypl.org or email Assistant Library Director of Operations Megan Charters.
- Are you ready for the annual City-Wide Fall Clean-Up? If not, you’ve got one weekend left to get your junk in order! The event is scheduled for 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 21, in the parking lot of Hawaiian Falls Waterpark. Residents of The Colony may bring trash and refuse, such as large tree limbs, furniture, appliances, lumber, remodeling debris, fencing materials and scrap metal, for disposal. This list is not all-inclusive, and some limitations apply. Click here for all the details or call Environmental Services at 972-624-3131.
- Mark your calendars now if you haven’t already. We are ONE MONTH away from American Heroes: A Salute to Veterans! This year’s festival and fireworks event is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 11, at The Colony Five Star Complex. The event features a headlining performance by the Oak Ridge Boys, as well as live music from Sammy Kershaw and Cooder Graw. Registration for the American Hero 5K/10K/1-mile Fun Run is already underway. A whole day’s worth of fun and activities is in store. Check out the festival schedule for all the details or call Parks & Recreation at 972-625-1106.
- Join us on Friday night, Oct. 6, for our second fall installment of Movies in the Park at The Colony Five Star Complex! This week’s movie is Beauty and the Beast, rated PG. FREE admission for everyone! Gates open at 6:15 p.m. Movie begins approximately 7:15 p.m. Parental supervision required. Bring your lawn chairs or blankets! Concessions will be available for purchase. The Colony Five Star Complex is at 4100 Blair Oaks Drive. Click here for more info or call the Parks & Recreation Department at 972-625-1106.
- #ICYMI: A new feature launched this past Sunday enables residents and visitors to access a food establishment’s health inspection scores from their smartphone or tablet. Starting Oct. 1, the letter grade cards showing health inspection scores were replaced with city-issued placards containing a QR code which, when scanned by a QR-code reader on your device, takes the user to the Health Inspection page of the city’s website. Click here for more details.
- Voters in Place 6 have one week to register to vote in time for the Tuesday, Nov. 7, City Council Election. The voter registration deadline is Monday, Oct. 9. Early voting runs from Oct. 23 to Nov. 3. For more info, call the City Secretary’s Office at 972-624-3106.
Medical Control contract keeps TCFD on the cutting-edge
“Check your own pulse.” That’s the first rule for fire department paramedics arriving at the scene of an emergency. The patient (or patients) requires immediate attention, and first-responders don’t have the luxury of being flustered.
To that end, The Colony Fire Department is staying on the cutting-edge of medical training by virtue of its current Medical Control contract with Medical City Plano (MCP). Through the affiliation, TCFD paramedics have access to a wide variety of programs and services – computerized training, facility access, ongoing statistical analysis of department operations, on-site training by emergency room physicians, operating-room rotations, ER rotations, and more.
One of the facilities they utilize is a cadaver lab at UT-Southwestern Medical School in Dallas where paramedics and other first-responders can practice hands-on, life-saving techniques. Shift by shift, TCFD has been sending all of its paramedics to the lab to keep their training fresh. A recent trip to the lab emphasized what they call “taking an airway.”
“When we arrive on a scene, one of the first things we’ll assess is if the patient’s airway is at risk through some kind of traumatic injury or medical event like a chronic illness,” Stephens said. “Sometimes patients are just fighting so hard to breath they get exhausted, and they’re not providing adequate ventilation on their own. So we take over for them and assist their respiration through different procedures like an intubation or tracheotomy.”
As the name implies, the cadaver lab provides paramedics the chance to use their tools and techniques on actual cadavers as opposed to mannequins, which not only have a tendency to wear down but simply don’t compare to the real thing, Stephens said.
TCFD veteran Mike Powers and newcomer Harrison Stoker were among the recent paramedics to undergo training at the lab. Powers has been in the fire services for 17 years. He said that most often a paramedic may only encounter serious trauma scenes a handful of times in their whole career.
But when that time comes, you have to be confident and let your training kick in. That’s when time spent in the labs really pays off.
“One of the unique things about fire services is that you go from 0 to 100 very quickly. One minute you’re literally sitting there at the table having a cup of coffee then just minutes later you’re at the scene of a horrific car accident, using the Jaws of Life, taking an airway,” he said. “It goes that quick. You don’t know from one minute to the next what you’ll be asked to do so you have to be ready for anything. The lab experience is great so that you’re not going in totally green when those situations arise.”
Then again, there are times when serious incidents come in waves. On average, each paramedic in the department performs about three intubations a year, Stephens said. Stoker, however, has performed five in the last two months alone. Despite those opportunities to put his skills to the test, he’s still appreciative of the lab training.
“I remember the first time I did CPR on someone. It’s totally different than the mannequin,” Stoker said. “At the lab, I definitely learn things to apply for the next time. You get very specific instruction regarding common issues.”
All lab participants are, of course, very respectful of the cadavers. Those individuals’ last act in life was to donate their bodies for educational purposes so that other lives may be saved.
“The more exposure you get, the more acclimated you are, the better you’ll do. This is a great opportunity,” Powers said, adding that his confidence in his skills was 100-percent restored following the lab work. “When we’re out on a call, we have to be fast. Like the doctor told us, the patient is dying and it’s just you. You have to do something. It’s intense. The more practice, the better.”
In his 20-year career, Stephens has performed many different emergency medical procedures. He remembers well the sensations of those experiences, especially his first chest decompression.
“I was startled because that was the first time I’d ever experienced something like that,” he said. “These types of laboratories take that away. They tone down the excitement level. This is our profession and it’s the patient’s emergency. There’s no room for error.”
TCFD’s Medical Control contract with Medical City Plano began in November 2016. Since that time, MCP has been tracking various department statistics.
“In the beginning, our first-attempt intubations were right at 50 percent, which isn’t really bad. It’s a complex procedure,” Stephens said. “But last month, our first-attempts were at 100 percent. That’s unheard of. It’s a goose-bump moment where you can really see the difference being made by the level of training.”
TCFD is one of only four fire departments in the region partnered with MCP for Medical Control services, along with Plano, Frisco, and Rowlett. The training and communication goes both ways, as well. As part of the program, for example, Emergency Room staff at MCP are instructed to observe the “45-second rule” when receiving a patient. Rather than simply whisk the patient off to a room, this ensures hospital staff members absorb relevant information from the paramedics.
“That rule makes sure the hospital has a clear understanding of what happened at the scene and why we’re bringing in our patients the way we are,” Powers said. “It’s a win-win.”
The ER rotations also give paramedics the chance to develop a better understanding about procedures taking place after they drop off their patients. “Paramedic training opens the door to the medical profession but getting the actual real-world experience in the hospital is different,” Stoker said. “It’s like learning Spanish in school versus living in a Spanish-speaking country.”
MCP’s program capitalizes on decades of medical, technological, and pharmaceutical advances developed by military medics on the frontlines in Iraq and Afghanistan, Stephens said. Thus, TCFD paramedics assigned to The Colony Police Department’s Special Response Team (most of whom are former military medics already) receive additional training through the program specific to those needs.
“We’ve got four firemen that are embedded on TCPD’s SWAT team as tactical paramedics. They’re not armed; they’re not officers. They’re just assets to the team,” Stephens said. “They have additional training and protocols that they perform. Most of the equipment is the same but they carry a small amount of specific medical equipment for certain traumatic injuries,” like for complex sutures or even dental work.
The way the system is set up, Stephens said, The Colony FD paramedics will always take care of The Colony Police officers. “In the event our SWAT team is making a raid outside the city and a member is injured, there will be a TCFD paramedic providing our level of care all the way to the hospital, regardless of the mode of transport.”
And by “our level of care,” Stephens is referring to what’s called The Colony Way. TCFD prides itself on maintaining a high, consistent level of specific training (like what’s provided at the cadaver lab) in order to create necessary cohesion within the department.
“We’ve all got to be on the same page. That’s The Colony Way,” Powers said. “Whatever the call, you’ve got to multitask and pay attention to the lead paramedic giving instructions. It takes a village to save a person.”
- Don’t miss the fall installment of The Colony Drive-In Theater at Stewart Creek Park on Friday, Sept. 29! This week’s movie is Guardians of the Galaxy 2, rated PG-13. FREE park admission starting at 6:30 p.m. Movie begins at 7:30 p.m. Tune your car radio to 99.9FM and watch this fun movie on the big screen! Click here for more information or contact Parks & Recreation at 972-625-1106.
- It’s almost time for one of The Colony Public Library’s most popular monthly events: Family Legomania! Come and build Lego structures with your family teammates between 2 and 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, at TCPL, 6800 Main St. The best LEGO creations will go on display at the Library. Ages 4 and up are welcome. Children under the age of 9 must be accompanied by a caregiver age 12 or older at all times. Click here for more information or call 972-625-1900, ext. 3.
- Health inspections are going mobile. Beginning Oct. 1, letter grade cards will no longer be issued and required to be posted for the most current health inspection grade at a food establishment within The Colony. The letter grade cards will be replaced with a city-issued laminated placard containing a QR Code linked to The Colony’s Health Inspection webpage. A QR code (or quick response code) is a type of 2D bar code used to provide easy access to information through a smartphone or tablet. Click here for more details or call the Health Department at 972-624-3161.
- At its regular meeting on Tuesday night, The Colony City Council is scheduled to formally vote on the municipal budget for FY 2017-18. The budget includes a 1/4-cent reduction to the tax rate. Click here to view the preliminary budget online or here to view the agenda for this week’s meeting.
- The City of The Colony, The Colony High School, and The Colony Chamber of Commerce have joined forces to host a Job Fair from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20, in the high school gymnasium, 4301 Blair Oaks Drive. Job-seekers are encouraged to bring resumes and references, and be dressed for an interview. Click here for all the details.
- The city’s new partnership with Simple Recycling featuring curbside clothing pickup kicks off this week! Postal issues in Houston resulting from Hurricane Harvey, however, have delayed delivery of the orange bags used for the service. Residents who planned to participate this first week are asked to contact Simple Recycling to ensure they have orange bags to fill for collection. Call 866-835-5068 or visit simplerecycling.com for more information or to request bags.