Health Care

Jefferson County Commission Considers Buying CPR Devices

Jefferson County used Cares Act funding to buy Lucas chest compression systems for local fire departments. The county Sheriff’s Department also bought the devices. (Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

The Jefferson County Commission will likely approve the purchase of at least 123 Lucas chest compression devices.

The sheriff’s office requested the funding from American Rescue Plan Act funds to purchase 250 of the automatic CPR devices at a cost of $17,980. The plan was for 138 of the devices to be deployed to 49 entities throughout the county.

The timing of the matter is sensitive as a price hike of 7% per unit is expected after the first of 2022. Another 138 Lucas devices were previously purchased with monies from the Care Act.

Commissioners were concerned that the devices need to be in more isolated locations where ambulance response times have been especially long. Commissioners noted the need to have devices in county senior centers and in schools.

Commission President Jimmie Stephens said the matter requires a “wholistic approach.” The request from the sheriff’s department does not mean that’s the best way to meet the need for the devices, he said.

Commissioner Steve Ammons offered a motion that the matter be placed on the agenda of Thursday’s commission meeting. In the interim, research will be done to determine how many devices are needed and where they should be.

JeffCo Commissioner Steve Ammons raised concerns during the Dec. 14, 2021, meeting that any new automatic CPR devices be placed where they are most needed. (Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

“I wanted to make sure that it fits within the guidelines that we’re allowed to spend that federal money, to make sure that we show just cause why there’s a need,” Ammons said. “The jail (in Birmingham and Bessemer) is an obvious need. The schools should be as well. But recognizing other places that do need it and don’t need it.”

Ammons said there are a number of municipalities that have first responders who respond to emergency calls in a timely manner. Those jurisdictions don’t necessarily need those Lucas devices, or they already have them, he said.

“Instead of it just being a request,” the commissioner said, “we’re trying to quantify exactly what the need is and then just go with that so we’re not just spending money.”

Demolish Structures

Commissioners also Thursday plan to accept bids to demolish 17 unsafe structures. County Manager Cal Markert said initial efforts to get bidders yielded no replies.

“They went out and scoured the universe, advertised more and got some bidders,” he said. “We’re ready to get started on this demolition.”

Commission President Jimmie Stephens said, “Those are the demolitions we’ve been looking for for the past three or four years. We just appreciate it.”

Opioid Settlement

Also moved to Thursday’s agenda is a settlement agreement with Endo Pharmaceuticals related to lawsuits concerning opioids.

“Endo reached a settlement with the state and so part of that settlement is that it will be a global settlement that will settle all of the lawsuits of the political subdivisions that have also filed,” County Attorney Theo Lawson said. “The state settled that lawsuit for $25 million. Of that $25 million, that’s a 60/40 allocation agreement where 60 goes to the state (and) 40 goes to the political subdivisions. When all of that gets divided up, there will be a portion that will go to the various subdivisions.”

Lawson said Jefferson County’s share of that settlement will be about $540,000. Those monies have to be used for appropriate mitigation programs, law enforcement and the like.

The county attorney said Jefferson County, the sheriff’s office and the county’s department of health were the filing parties in the suit. Presuming that the resolution is passed Thursday, money from the settlement will go into an account until it is determined how the funds can be used.

Fairfield Jobs

Commissioners moved to the agenda a pair of resolutions that would draw jobs to Fairfield.

The first would allow Fairfield to abate county statutory taxes for up to 10 years for Harbison Walker, a refracturing company that is returning to the city after two years.

The second would set a public hearing concerning the adoption and approval of that action. The company is also eligible for the county’s job incentive since it will have 50 jobs that pay at least $50,000 annually.

“They’re going to build these coatings and materials that would allow you to keep heat,” said Steve Ammons, chair of the commission’s economic development committee. “It’s like the arc furnace that’s over in Fairfield, as well. As it develops the heat, they’ll have that coating that goes around it to help keep that heat in or keep it from going out. They build that for a number of things.”


Markert also told commissioners about a five-party plan – Project Gateway – to enhance the appearance of the metro-area rights of way as visitors come to town.

The preliminary estimate is $700,000 to $800,000 for the maintenance of the right of way areas. That cost would be split between Jefferson County, the city of Birmingham, the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau, UAB and the Alabama Department of Transportation.

“It really will take care of coming into town and coming into the county for World Games,” the county manager said. “It’s going to look really good and it’s going to be maintained first class. Beautiful.”