TWIN FALLS — An 80-year-old man was leaving after a Declo school basketball game in December when he collapsed and his heart stopped beating.
There was an automated external defibrillator in a nearby hallway. Spectators from the game started doing CPR on the man and used the defibrillator. After one shock, the man’s heart started beating again. He was airlifted to St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center and had a “really good outcome,” Cassia County school nurse Kyle Hodges said.
Just a month earlier, a Buhl High School student was stung by wasps during a soccer game at Declo High School and went into anaphylactic shock. A school secretary ran into the school to grab an EpiPen and a coach administered the injection. The boy was transported to a hospital.
More Magic Valley schools are seeking funding — such as through grants — to add automated external defibrillators and EpiPens to campuses. Schools often serve as community gathering places with students, family members and the general public coming in for athletic events and performances. And in an emergency, a quick response is crucial.
“It’s really important to recognize these emergency devices save lives,” Hodges said.
Last week, St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center donated three AEDs to the Twin Falls School District, purchased using a grant from the hospital’s Children’s Advisory Committee.
All of the Twin Falls School District’s middle and high schools already had an AED. Employees receive training, but so far, the devices have never been used.
The school district is now working toward having one defibrillator in every elementary school. Morningside Elementary School is the only elementary campus that has one now, which was paid for by a grant.
In addition to working with St. Luke’s, the school district will likely look at ways to speed up the process of getting an AED for every school, said director of operations Ryan Bowman. “It’s something we’re really working toward.”
But “having one in the school isn’t necessarily where we should stop,” he said. At a large school campus with multiple buildings like Twin Falls High School, there could be a long distance to get to the AED.
A hurdle, though, is the cost — often at least $2,000 for the device, pads and cabinet.
Defibrillation is the delivery of an electric shock to restore the heart’s normal rhythm. When someone goes into cardiac arrest, “minutes can be the difference between life or death,” Bowman said. With having defibrillators in schools, “if it saves one person, it’s worth it.”
In Twin Falls, defibrillators will be added at two more elementary schools within the next week, thanks to the St. Luke’s donation. One will be at I.B. Perrine Elementary School because a student’s care plan includes a doctor recommendation to have one on site, Bowman said. The other school hasn’t been selected yet.
The AEDs are user-friendly. “They’re great because they’re easy to use,” Bowman said. The devices “speak” out loud to give step-by-step instructions about performing CPR, a reminder to call 9-1-1 and how to use the defibrillator.
“It takes you through the whole process,” Bowman said.
There’s often a concern about non-medical personnel using the devices, he said, but there are built-in safety measures. Once pads are placed on a patient’s chest, the equipment monitors whether a heart rate is detected and if the person needs an electric shock.
“If there’s no need for it, it won’t do it,” Bowman said.
In Jerome, each school campus has as defibrillator. In the middle and high schools, it’s kept in the gymnasium or nearby. Elementary schools keep theirs in a central location in a major hallway.
School nurse Kathy Fagerland — who’s new to the job this school year — said the previous school nurse received a St. Luke’s grant within the last three years to purchase defibrillators. They haven’t been used.
In Cassia County, with students who have medical conditions and may be 45 minutes from a hospital, “you kind of look at safety and those kinds of things a little bit differently,” Hodges said.
She heard about a school in American Falls using an AED to save an athlete’s life. She started going to Cassia County service clubs to seek donations. The school district’s first AED was installed in the King Fine Arts Center in Burley.
Now, the school district has 18. Two are designated for athletics and coaches can check one out to take on the road. Last week, Hodges wrote a grant for three more — enough for the three remaining Cassia County schools without one: Almo Elementary School, Declo Elementary School and the Preschool Center in Burley.
Some school districts — including Twin Falls, Jerome and Cassia County — have EpiPens for every school campus. The device contains epinephrine to treat severe allergic reactions.
Both Jerome and Cassia County received the devices through the EpiPen4Schools program, operated by pharmaceutical manufacturer Mylan. Cassia County School District received 18 cabinets with EpiPens for children and adults last year. Before that, schools didn’t have them.
EpiPen maker Mylan has come under fire in recent years, though. It finalized a $465-million government agreement last year settling allegations it overbilled Medicaid for its emergency allergy injectors for a decade — charges brought after rival Sanofi filed a whistleblower lawsuit and tipped off the government.
It’s the second settlement with the Department of Justice that Mylan has made since 2009 to end allegations it overcharged the government for its medicines.
Mylan raised the list price per two-pack of EpiPens from $94 in 2007 to $608 last year. Experts estimate that producing one EpiPen costs less than $10.
For many who have severe allergies, it’s crucial to have an EpiPen and it can be lifesaving. Last week at a Cassia County elementary school reading event, a second-grade girl ate a cookie with macadamia nuts thinking they were white chocolate chips, Hodges said. She had an allergic reaction and her mother gave her a shot with an EpiPen she was carrying with her.
It’s a scenario everyone hopes children will never encounter. But if they do, schools and parents want to be prepared.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
TWIN FALLS — Congressman and gubernatorial hopeful Raul Labrador touched down in Twin Falls Monday night for a town hall meeting on “traditional family values” at the Full Life Family Church.
Speaking to an audience of about 20 people, Labrador addressed topics ranging from proposed tax cuts to illegal immigration and discussed his “Defending Idaho Values” plan, released earlier that day.
The Idaho Values plan includes support for “traditional marriage” between a man and a woman, enacting Stand Your Ground legislation in Idaho, ending state funding for healthcare clinics that provide abortions and the protection of religious freedoms.
“Sometimes we want to separate religion from politics, but the reality is that our values determine who we are as a nation and determine who we are as a people,” Labrador told event attendees Monday night.
“We’re kind of letting society think that it’s OK to be whatever you want to be, and it’s okay to just have no moral compass,” he said.
Freedom of religion is “under constant attack” in Idaho and elsewhere, Labrador told the Times-News in an interview after the discussion.
He emphasized his opposition to the perennial “Add the Words” campaign, which would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the state’s human rights act.
“The moment you add the words, then there will be special protections for certain groups,” he said. “And there will be a conflict between an individual’s rights and a person’s religious rights.”
If elected governor, the congressman said in a statement earlier in the day, he will “actively look for an opportunity” to challenge the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 Obergefell ruling, which legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states. States should be able to choose for themselves how to define marriage, Labrador said.
The Idaho Values plan also calls for the state to reform civil asset forfeiture law — to make it illegal for law enforcement to seize the property of a person who has not been charged or convicted of a crime — and a repeal of mandatory minimum sentences.
The proposal to end mandatory minimums comes at a time when the state’s prisons are bursting at the seams; the Department of Correction announced last week that it would send up to 250 inmates to Texas due to a lack of bed space in Idaho.
“I believe our state is imprisoning too many people who are low-level offenders,” Labrador told the Times-News. “I think that...we should look for different alternatives for them so the state doesn’t have to pay for their prison time and then we don’t have to doubly pay for it because they come out of the prison system as worse individuals.”
The “Defending Idaho Values” plan is the fourth plank of Labrador’s Conservative Vision for a Stronger Idaho platform. Previous planks include plans to strengthen Idaho’s economy, “Make Government More Fair and Accountable,” and “Dismantle The Power And Perks Of Establishment Politicians.”
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump unveiled a $4.4 trillion budget plan Monday that envisions steep cuts to America’s social safety net but mounting spending on the military, formally retreating from last year’s promises to balance the federal budget.
The president’s spending outline for the first time acknowledges that the Republican tax overhaul passed last year would add billions to the deficit and not “pay for itself” as Trump and his Republican allies asserted. If enacted as proposed, although no presidential budget ever is, the plan would establish an era of $1 trillion-plus yearly deficits.
The open embrace of red ink is a remarkable public reversal for Trump and his party, which spent years objecting to President Barack Obama’s increased spending during the depths of the Great Recession. Rhetoric aside, however, Trump’s pattern is in line with past Republican presidents who have overseen spikes in deficits as they simultaneously increased military spending and cut taxes.
“We’re going to have the strongest military we’ve ever had, by far,” Trump said in an Oval Office appearance Monday. “In this budget we took care of the military like it’s never been taken care of before.”
Trump’s budget revived his calls for big cuts to domestic programs that benefit the poor and middle class, such as food stamps, housing subsidies and student loans. Retirement benefits would remain mostly untouched by Trump’s plan, as he has pledged, although Medicare providers would absorb about $500 billion in cuts — a nearly 6 percent reduction. Some beneficiaries in Social Security’s disability program would have to re-enter the workforce under proposed changes to eligibility rules.
While all presidents’ budgets essentially are dead on arrival — Congress writes and enacts its own spending legislation — Trump’s plan was dead before it landed. It came just three days after the president signed a bipartisan agreement that set broad parameters for spending over the next two years. That deal, which includes large increases for domestic programs, rendered Monday’s Trump plan for 10-year, $1.7 trillion cuts to domestic agencies, such as the departments of Health and Human Services, Agriculture and Housing and Urban Development even more unrealistic.
Trump also is proposing work requirements for several federal programs, including housing subsidies, food stamps and Medicaid. Such ideas have backing from powerful figures in Congress including Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who promises action on a “workforce development” agenda this year.
There was immediate opposition from Democrats.
“The Trump budget proposal makes clear his desire to enact massive cuts to health care, anti-poverty programs and investments in economic growth to blunt the deficit-exploding impact of his tax cuts for millionaires and corporations,” said Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee.
Some Republicans, on the other hand, said spending was much too high.
“This budget continues too much of Washington’s wasteful spending — it does not balance in ten years, and it creates a deficit of over a trillion dollars next year,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida. “We cannot steal from America’s future to pay for spending today.
Trump’s plan aims at other familiar targets. It would eliminate the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The administration wants NASA out of the International Space Station by 2025 and private businesses running the place instead.
But the domestic cuts would be far from enough to make up for the plummeting tax revenue projected in the budget.
Trump’s plan sees a 2019 deficit of $984 billion, although White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney admits $1.2 trillion is more plausible after last week’s congressional budget pact and $90 billion worth of disaster aid is tacked on. That would be more than double the 2019 deficit the administration promised last year.
All told, the new budget sees accumulating deficits of $7.2 trillion over the coming decade; Trump’s plan last year projected a 10-year shortfall of $3.2 trillion. And that’s assuming Trump’s rosy economic predictions come true and Congress follows through — in an election year — with politically toxic cuts to social programs, farm subsidies and Medicare providers.
Last year Trump’s budget promised such ideas could generate a small budget surplus by 2027; now, his best-case scenario is for a $450 billion deficit that year, more than $300 billion of which can be traced to his December tax cut.
In stark numbers, the budget rewrites the administration’s talking points for last year’s tax plan, which administration figures, such as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, promised would more than pay for itself.
“Not only will this tax plan pay for itself, but it will pay down debt,” Mnuchin declared in September.
Instead, Trump’s budget projects that tax revenues will plummet by $3.7 trillion over the 2018-27 decade relative to last year’s “baseline” estimates.
TWIN FALLS — Les Kenworthy feels prepared to take on Twin Falls Fire Department’s upcoming challenges with population growth.
On Monday, the City Council approved the city manager’s recommendation to appoint Kenworthy as the city’s new fire chief. The Seattle-area native had thoroughly researched Twin Falls — quickly making himself the most prepared of the candidates interviewed by selection committees. Thirty-two people from 17 states applied for the job.
Kenworthy was sworn in at the meeting, but he steps into his job on March 12.
“We’ve gone to great lengths to find Les, and hope Les feels he’s gone to great lengths to find us,” City Manager Travis Rothweiler told the Council. “Les simply wasn’t looking for the next job. He was looking for a place where he could make a significant impact.”
Kenworthy began his residential firefighting career in King County, Wash., in 1977. He joined the Mercer Island Fire Department in 1980, and has served there more than 37 years — and the past three years as its deputy fire chief.
But even with Kenworthy’s impressive background, City Councilman Chris Talkington seized the opportunity to put the applicant in the hot seat at Monday’s meeting. Talkington asked Kenworthy what he saw as the top three challenges for Twin Falls’ fire department in his first year.
With the city’s growth, Kenworthy said, he believes the top challenges will be the impact to the fire department with responding to medical calls, and how he will manage department staffing and resources.
“I am looking forward to being able to contribute what I have to offer,” he said.
Kenworthy’s appointment was confirmed by a 7-0 vote — Talkington with “an enthusiastic yes.” The new fire chief was then given the oath of office by Twin Falls Mayor Shawn Barigar.
Rothweiler said Kenworthy’s peers have described him as a “leader’s leader.”
Kenworthy, 56, told the Times-News that he and his wife, Julie, have vacationed in Idaho fore years.
“We’ve always liked Idaho. We’ve always liked Twin Falls,” he said. “We’re ready to move out of the Seattle area and get into a more rural area.”
He also sought the opportunity for a promotion. Kenworthy had gone through a job search process in La Grande, Ore., but decided the area wasn’t a good fit. But he’d heard that Twin Falls is a bigger city that still feels like a smaller city.
What really impressed him, however, was the city’s and the fire department’s leadership. Kenworthy recalled reaching out to Barigar over the phone while he was doing his research, and he said the mayor was more than willing to answer his questions.
In addressing his upcoming challenges, Kenworthy told the Times-News he needs to understand more about the department and the goals behind having firefighters respond to emergency medical calls.
“I think it’s the right model to have firefighters involved in EMS,” he said.
But as Twin Falls’ population grows, Kenworthy may see a need to make the process more efficient, perhaps by filtering calls differently.
Twin Falls Fire Department began responding to medical calls shortly after Kenworthy’s predecessor, Tim Soule, took over as fire chief. At the time the new policy was implemented, firefighters went from going on four to 14 calls per day.
Kenworthy recognized the difficulties the fire department has had with leadership changes, but he has confidence in the battalion chiefs he’ll be serving with.
“I’m humbled and touched by this,” he said. “My goal is to exceed and hopefully go above and beyond your expectations.”
JEROME — County commissioners have found themselves between a rock and a hard place in their attempt to turn the Snake River Canyon Park into a safe place to recreate.
Jerome County wants to restrict recreational shooting to a safe area in the east end of the park, owned by the Bureau of Land Management and leased by Jerome County.
The shooting issue on the canyon rim came to a head last week when a doctor was hit in the chest by a stray bullet, the latest in several documented cases of close encounters with unseen and unknown shooters in the park or the adjacent endowment lands owned by the Idaho Department of Lands.
By code, recreational shooting is allowed on both BLM and IDL ground, Prosecutor Mike Seib told commissioners Cathy Roemer and Roger Morley on Monday. The commissioners could adopt a no-shooting ordinance to create a safe zone in the park, but when push comes to shove, state code trumps county ordinances, he said.
Seib told commissioners he didn’t know how he could successfully prosecute someone caught shooting in a no-shooting zone on BLM or IDL ground in that case.
“If it can’t be enforced, what would an ordinance accomplish?” Morley asked.
On the other hand, an Idaho statute allows counties to adopt ordinances to restrict the discharge of firearms within their boundaries, unless “the discharge will not endanger persons or property.”
The wording of the statute is problematic, Seib said. When pressed, he said he didn’t know whether that ordinance gives the county power to create a no-shooting zone on public land.
Roemer asked him to look into other counties’ shooting ordinances.
While the discussion brought more questions than answers, a Twin Falls man offered help from North Canyon Shooters Association.
“The shooting community is stepping up to the plate,” said Don Zuck, the group’s founder. “The North Canyon Shooters Association is coming to life in a big way, and all of us will do whatever we can to help the process.”