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City of Muscatine Communication Blog

Hello and welcome to our blog. As the Communication Manager for the City of Muscatine, Iowa, I know the importance of communicating with residents and providing them with an understanding of the different functions of the City, why these functions are important to our residents, and what the City is doing for the future of our community.

Many times the story of the various activities, accomplishments, and happenings within the City are not told and we want to make sure that the people behind these activities, accomplishments, and happenings are duly recognized. We also want to explain our vision of the future for the City of Muscatine, something that we take great pride in.

Please check back in periodically to see updates on what's going on here in Muscatine! Please feel free to leave comments on individual postings--the comments will not be displayed here, but they will be emailed to me so that I can collect your thoughts and make adjustments based on the feedback and suggestions. Moderated comments are an option as we progress. Thanks for reading and I hope you find this to be an effective tool!

Jul 23

Transit ambulance joins Muscatine Fire Department fleet

Posted on July 23, 2020 at 3:46 PM by Kevin Jenison

(See Original Post at https://muscatineiowa.wordpress.com/2020/07/23/transport-ambulance-is-added-to-muscatine-fire-department-fleet/)


MUSCATINE, Iowa
– Patient comfort, better gas mileage, and decreased maintenance costs are just three of the benefits from a Type II Transport Ambulance that was recently added to the Muscatine Fire Department (MFD) fleet.

“It is a much smoother ride,” Andrew McSorley, Muscatine Firefighter/Paramedic who worked with Battalion Chief/Emergency Medical Service Chief Ted Hillard in the purchase and outfitting of the new rig. “We have some long distances that we drive to take patients from one hospital to another. This unit is just a smoother ride for the patient and easier to drive down the road for the paramedics.”

The 2019 Type II Ford Transit, medium height roof, 3.7 liter gasoline powered van was purchased for $85,591.00 from Foster Coach with the purchase authorized by the Muscatine City Council in November 2019.

“Some of the feedback we get from citizens is that the modular ambulances are not a very comfortable ride,” Jerry Ewers, Muscatine Fire Chief, said. “The way this transit is built will provide a smoother ride for the patient.”

Hillard noted that there will be a cost savings in gas for the new unit and less overall maintenance costs for all of the ambulances in the fleet.

Earlier this year, the MFD had 12 trips to the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City or to Davenport in one day. Those trips amounted to over 1,000 miles accumulated on one of the bigger units in just a single day. That is extra miles that would be bettered served in response to 911 calls than in transferring non-critical patients.

Hillard said that the department gets roughly 200,000 to 250,000 miles on a unit before actually have to do major work on them.

“Once we get that high of mileage, it starts to nickel and dime us because of all the little things that start to go wrong,” Hillard said. “Plus we are constantly having to maintain them.”

Reliability is important along with maintenance costs when working with units that have high mileage, and MFD mechanics work hard to maintain the fleet and keep the ambulances in working order so that they are dependable and reliable for use.

“We do have a fleet replacement schedule that we follow when mileage increases and repair costs skyrocket,” Ewers said. “This addition to our fleet may help to extend the useable life of our ambulances and that will help keep costs down.”

The transit ambulance, Squad 356, has been in service for several weeks and the MFD has already had some feedback.

“We responded to a 911 call with our regular ambulance, drove the patient to the hospital, and then drove the patient to a different hospital in the transit ambulance,” Hillard said. “The patient said the ride was completely different in the transit and more relaxing.”

Relaxing while being transferred from one hospital to another may be a stretch in regards to patient comfort especially if the patient has a back or neck injury or something similar.

Anyone with non-critical injuries will tell you that being bumped around as you are in the bigger ambulances is not that relaxing.

“This is all about patient care and patient comfort,” Hillard said.

McSorley added that comfort is especially key when transporting psychological patients.

“Just being uncomfortable can set them off,” McSorley said. “So this type of transport is beneficial to them and to the paramedics with the patient.”

This type of BLS (Basic Life Support) ambulance is not meant to be used as an ALS (Advanced Life Support) unit but could be if the situation warrants. McSorely said that Squad 356 has not been used a lot yet with the MFD being rather selective on what calls the unit goes on. Predominately, the unit will be used for patients who are not critical, do not require medical treatment but still need some monitoring, and cannot be transferred by private vehicle.

While patient comfort, better gas mileage, and cost savings are key factors in the units use, there are some drawbacks. One of the bigger downfalls is that the attending paramedic cannot access the patient from both sides of the cot.

“While it is definitely more comfortable, when you get in the back you really see the difference between these rigs,” McSorely said. “However, the lack of room is not that big of a deal for a BLS transport.”

The unit is designed for BLS transport and not intended to be used for any 911 calls, but if something would go wrong, the unit does have ALS capabilities including an ALS monitor, certain medications, the ability to do IV’s and intubations, and much more.

“So even though this is for BLS, we can still turn it into an ALS transfer if we needed to,” McSorely said.

Squad 356 joins five ALS ambulances that have primary responsibility for responding to 911 calls. Four of those ambulances are housed at Station 1 in the Public Safety Building, and one is housed in Station 2 on the south side of Muscatine.

“This is a great investment in what we do,”McSorley said. “As many transfers as we are starting to get, this is the best option for us and for the patient. And, for the many long distance transfers that we have, we would rather go that distance with this rig than one of the other rougher riding rigs.”

Transit ambulances have been out for several years but not many departments utilize them because they are normally used for non-emergency transfers. Transit ambulances are not used for 911 calls since there is less compartment space, and there is less room for patient care especially when you have critical patients that may need the more enhanced ALS services. Non-emergency transport services have been using them and using them well according to Ewers.

“We are trying to fit it into our organization and evaluate to see if it is something that we can continue with or if it is something that we utilize now but does not have a practical application in our future operations,” Ewers said. “We will not know that fit until we have the opportunity to try some research, accumulate data and feedback, and see how it works within our organization.”

If it does work, the department would not rule out adding another transfer unit to its fleet, especially if a third station is built.

“This is our initial investment to see how it works for our department,” Hillard said. “Where we go really depends on how call volume goes, and the potential for building a third station on the north side.”

Hillard said the department is maxed out right now with all bays filled up at both Station 1 and Station 2. Squad 356 is housed at Station 1 where the transfers are dispatched from. The ambulance at Station 2 does not do transfers unless the transfer requires more critical care.

“Our odds of picking up a patient at the hospital in a timely manner is better from here (Station 1) plus this station is where our manpower is and it is easier to back fill staff when needed,” Hillard said.

A third station is being planned at the former Iowa Department of Transportation site on Lake Park Boulevard but construction for that site is still several years away from being implemented. A third station would allow ALS ambulances and fire trucks to be housed at that location and free up a bay or two at the main station for the potential of another transfer unit if the data warrants.

Unlike the bigger modular ALS ambulances, the transit ambulances cannot be refurbished and will have to be eventually replaced. The price difference between a Type 2 BLS transport ambulance and the Type 1 ALS modular ambulance may make replacement feasible.

“We are always trying to find alternative ways of providing services while still being cost effective,” Ewers said.


Jun 15

Practice fireworks safety this holiday season

Posted on June 15, 2020 at 4:55 PM by Kevin Jenison

Residents urged to follow safety guidelines for an injury free holiday season; Fourth of July consumer firework usage allowed only on July 3 and July 4


061520 Fireworks Tent 001 (JPG)MUSCATINE, Iowa
– Fireworks and the Fourth of July have a long standing relationship but this year’s celebration of our nation’s independence will be different and without many of the festivities that were enjoyed by Muscatine visitors and residents a year ago.

The Fourth of July holiday season will, undoubtedly, still be accompanied by the discharging of consumer fireworks from the homes of area residents including the use of sparklers, firecrackers, and other large displays.

Residents are reminded, however, that the legal discharge of consumer fireworks is limited to just two days in July. Muscatine City Code states that consumer fireworks can be legally discharged July 3 and July 4 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 10 p.m. only.

The Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GMCCI) decided to cancel the annual Fourth of July parade and fireworks demonstration out of concern that residents would not be able to practice the social distancing guidelines recommended by the Iowa Department of Public Health in response to the COVID-19 health crisis. The decision was made after consulting with the City of Muscatine and with Trinity Muscatine Public Health officials.

“As disappointing as it is to cancel this long-standing community tradition, we want to take every precaution to keep members of our community safe and healthy,” Erik Reader, GMCCI President & CEO, said. “We are still looking to have a community celebration of sorts, but later in the summer. At this time we are exploring rescheduling the fireworks, adding live music, and trying to find ways to support small businesses that have been impacted by the recent events.”

Muscatine Mayor Diana Broderson echoed Readers’ comment and joined with other City officials in stating the importance of public safety.

“Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our citizens and of the visitors to our community,” Broderson said. “The current health crisis has brought significant challenges to our lives. While it is disappointing that this celebration cannot be held, we will be able to enjoy these types of celebrations in the near future by following the guidelines provided for social distancing and personal hygiene.”

Consumer fireworks will still be, and currently are (although not legally), discharged by residents in the weeks and days leading up to the Fourth of July. Citizens are urged to be responsible regarding the use of fireworks and to remain within the guidelines established in the Muscatine City Code.

Public safety is also the foremost concern for local and state officials in the governance of the sale and use of consumer fireworks.

“Fireworks can have far reaching consequences that are usually not considered when they are ignited,” Kevin Jenison, City of Muscatine Communications Manager, said.

Local government and public safety officials share deep concern for the individuals who discharge the fireworks, those individuals who are in the vicinity when fireworks are discharged, those individuals who may be affected by the noise created by the explosions, for the homes, businesses, or other structures that may be ignited by fireworks, and for household pets.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission states that the Fourth of July, and the month surrounding it, is the most dangerous time for fireworks related injuries. The majority of fireworks-related injuries involve the hands and fingers (41 percent) with the head are second (19 percent).

Trinity Muscatine Emergency Department received six trauma cases from the surrounding area due to severe firework related injuries in July 2019. Muscatine County Public Health also reported additional firework related impacts including a reported dismemberment and one death in the area. Many more firework related injuries went unreported.

While the skies may be dark along the Mississippi River riverfront without the annual fireworks show, expectations are that reaction to the COVID-19 health crisis will create more celebrations at the homes of Muscatine residents.

“The Police Department had about a dozen firework calls over the weekend,” Mike Hartman, Assistant Fire Chief, said.

Applications for tents have been received for various locations including the Muscatine Mall, Blain’s, Fareway, Hy-Vee, Wal-Mart, and Menards, and inside sales at planned at Hy-Vee, Hy-Vee Mainstreet, Wal-Mart, and Menards. The Muscatine Fire Department have approved two tents to sell and beginning their safety inspections of the other locations.

The City of Muscatine encourages residents to be good neighbors when discharging fireworks, to be considerate to any neighbors who might have a sensitivity to fireworks noise, to be mindful of pets who may become frightened by the firework explosions, and to be mindful of the property lines of others who may not want fireworks on their real property.

Per state law, a person shall not use, explode, or discharge consumer fireworks on real property other than that person’s real property or on the real property of a person who has consented to the use of consumer fireworks on that property. Sidewalks, the right-of-way between sidewalks and the street, and the City streets are all public property and thus are prohibited. Parks, trails, public parking lots and so on are also off limits.

Using fireworks outside the designated dates and times listed below is considered to be a violation and can result in fines of no less than $250 per violation. Anyone discharging fireworks or allowing the discharge of fireworks on their property assumes responsibility for that discharge and the consequences, if warranted.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) offers these recommendations:

  • Do not allow young children to play with fireworks. Sparklers, a firework often considered by many to be the ideal “safe” device for the young, burn at very high temperatures and should not be handled by young children. Children may not understand the danger involved with fireworks and may not act appropriately while using the devices.
  • Persons under the age of 18 shall not discharge any fireworks without adult supervision.
  • Do not allow any running or horseplay in or around the fireworks firing area or with fireworks.
  • Set off fireworks outdoors in a clear area, away from houses, dry leaves, or grass and other flammable materials.
  • Keep a bucket of water nearby for emergencies and for pouring on fireworks that fail to ignite or explode.
  • Do not try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away.
  • Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
  • Never light fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
  • Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
  • Check instructions for special storage directions.
  • Observe local laws.
  • Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting.
  • Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.

Report any fires in buildings, vehicles, or greenspaces by calling 911 immediately!

Enjoy a safe holiday season.

More information can be found on the City of Muscatine Firework Safety page.


May 11

Bulky Waste Collection Program gets a makeover

Posted on May 11, 2020 at 7:25 PM by Kevin Jenison

MUSCATINE, Iowa – Curbside bulky waste collection has been a tremendous success, so much so that the Department of Public Works (DPW) has doubled the number of collections per day and lifted restrictions on scheduling to allow residents to plan for pickups weeks or months in advance.

“Maybe it is because more people are staying home following the Iowa Department of Public Health guidelines, or maybe it is just the season to do spring cleaning,” Brian Stineman, Public Works Director, said. “Whatever the reason we have been receiving a lot of requests and have modified our procedures to meet those needs.”

Following discussions by Public Works staff last winter, the Curbside Bulky Waste Collection Program was launched in February to ease the financial, equipment, and personnel costs associated with was formally called Spring Cleanup Week.

The Solid Waste Division of the Department of Public Works recommended the elimination of the designated Spring Cleanup Week in favor of a program that residents would be able to use throughout the year. Residents were already offered three free pickups per calendar year, which was never fully utilized, and the new program combine and expands on the old programs.

“The financial, equipment, and personnel costs associated with the collection effort associated with Spring Cleanup Week were unnecessary,” Stineman said. “And it took resources away from work on other projects such as street repair.”

Initially the program had residents calling or emailing the Transfer Station to schedule a collection at least two days before and up to a week in advance of their refuse collection day. A maximum of 20 collections would be scheduled each day.

Demand for the city service exceeded expectations and resulted in increasing the number of pickups per day and allowing residents to schedule collections as far in advance as needed.

“Not only have we gone from 20 to 30 and now to 40 collections per day, we are now allowing residents to schedule future pickups as needed.” Stineman said.

Solid Waste Manager David Popp added that another reason for the changes was that the piles that the staff was seeing were exceeding the size limits of the program.

Many of the piles that we are seeing are exceeding the size as listed in the program,” Popp said. “If residents need to, they can schedule more than one week while on the phone.

Remember … the sticker may be in the mail but you have to request one first

Stineman also noted that residents who want to dispose of yard waste at the Compost Facility can do so during regular site hours but a Compost Facility Sticker is needed. If you do not have one yet, contact the Transfer Station and one will be mailed to you after verification of address.

Stickers would normally be available for pickup at the Transfer Station, Public Works, or City Hall but these facilities are currently closed to the public in response to COVID-19 guidelines.

Once the Transfer Station, and other City buildings, reopen to the public, the Compost Facility Stickers will be available at locations. Residents requesting a sticker will be asked for their name, address, phone number, and make and model of the vehicle they will use to bring waste to the Compost Facility.

The site is located at the Muscatine Transfer Station, 1000 S. Houser St., Muscatine. Regular hours are 12-6 p.m. Sunday through Friday and from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturdays.

So what can be left curbside for the city to collect?

Among the items accepted for residential curbside pickup are furniture (couch, chair, recliner, table), mattresses (must be in a bag), carpet (no longer than four feet, rolled, and secured), dismantled swing sets, minimal building materials (not to exceed a pick up load measuring 8’x4’x2’), extra trash bags (smaller items must be bagged), and appliances (two free per year per address).

“We are only accepting small quantities of construction materials,” David Poll, Solid Waste Manager, said. “And these materials should not have nails or screws protruding from them that may injure staff as they are picking them up.

Bags for mattresses are available for free at the Transfer Station. With the Transfer Station closed to the public at the present time, residents need to call the Transfer Station for directions on how to obtain a bag. Residents can also use the bag their new mattress came in.

What is not accepted for curbside pickup?

Among the items that will not be picked up as part of the bulky waste curbside collection are sheds, garages, and excessive building materials, concrete or brick, paint and household hazardous waste, camper refrigerator and camper air conditioners, car bodies, tires, electronics, and fencing.

Concrete or brick can be taken by the resident to the Public Works yard on Washington Street. Paint and household hazardous waste will be accepted at no charge at the Transfer Station once that location has reopened to the public.

Electronics will be accepted at the Transfer Station for a fee once that facility reopens to the public. A Free Electronics Drop Off Week is scheduled for July 13-18. During this week, residents who have City of Muscatine refuse service can bring three (3) electronics to the Transfer Station for disposal at no charge with proof of address (driver’s license or piece of mail).

Tires will be accepted at the Transfer Station for a fee one that facility reopens to the public. A Free Tire Drop Off Week is scheduled for July 20-25. During this week, residents who have City of Muscatine refuse service can bring four (4) tires (off of the rim) to the Transfer Station at no charge with proof of address (driver’s license or piece of mail).

Essential services maintained during COVID-19 outbreak

The stay-at-home guidelines associated with COVID-19 may have helped to increase interest in the collection effort, and the Department of Public Works has responded to meet that increased interest. This service to the citizens of Muscatine and Fruitland, along with the curbside collection of refuse, recycling, and yard waste, has continued during the COVID-19 outbreak.

CALL TO SCHEDULE CURBSIDE BULK PICKUP

Residents can call 563-264-JUNK (563-264-5865) or email bulkywaste@muscatineiowa.gov to schedule a curbside collection on the resident’s regular collection day. Due to the popularity of the program, residents are urged to contact the Transfer Station as soon as possible.

Pickups are completed on the residents’ regular refuse collection day but can be scheduled weeks in advance. The schedule for each collection day fills up fast and a resident may have to postpone their collection to a future date. If you email or leave a phone message with your name and phone number, a staff member will call, review the items to be picked up to ensure they are acceptable, and confirm the day for collection.

Visit Curbside Bulk Collection for more details.

CITY STILL PICKING UP YARD WASTE CURBSIDE

The City of Muscatine continues to offer curbside pickup of grass clippings, leaves, and garden waste placed in City of Muscatine Yard Waste bags on the residents’ regular refuse collection day. These bags are available at Hy-Vee, Hy-Vee Main Street, and Fareway. They will also be available at the Transfer Station when that facility is open to the public.

Tree limbs and other trimmings from trees and shrubs will also be collected curbside as long as they are bundled with string or cord in four-foot lengths. Contact Public Works (563-263-8933) for curbside collection of larger tree limbs.

Bags, tree limbs, and other trimmings should be placed near refuse container on the day of scheduled pickup.

Visit Yard Waste Collection for more details.

COMPOST FACILITY OPEN BUT ONLY WITH A STICKER

The Compost Facility at the Muscatine Transfer Station remains open for residents of Muscatine and Fruitland to deposit yard waste but only to those who have the Compost Facility Sticker. The Compost sticker identifies residents of Muscatine and Fruitland who can take yard waste to the Compost Facility for free.

Due to COVID-19 guidelines, the Compost Facility attendants will not accept cash or checks at this time, thus limiting access to the facility to those who can prove there are residents of Muscatine with a sticker.

For more information, visit Compost Facility on the City of Muscatine website.