BUSINESS

Leadership Ascension providing oxygen refills

Wade McIntyre
Crystal Moran of the 2009 Leadership Ascension class explains to area agency leaders how the Oxygen2Ascension project will work to help home-based residents refill oxygen bottles in emergencies.

When Hurricane Gustav hit Ascension Parish last year, many residents dependent upon oxygen for medical reasons were placed in situations where it was difficult to refill their oxygen bottles.

Now, a joint endeavor between the Ascension Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and the Ascension Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class of 2009 seeks to prevent that problem from occurring again.

Crystal Moran of the OEP office, and a member of the Leadership Class, said the parish received over 150 calls from home-based oxygen dependent people needing refills, in addition to calls that came into OEP.

The Oxygen2Ascension project of the Class of 2009 is a transportable air refill trailer special designed with a booster pump power source and a fully equipped bank of 12 compressed oxygen cylinders for refilling oxygen bottles.

The mobile unit will be placed at the Ascension Parish Health Unit where residents will be able to refill or swap out there oxygen bottles for free.

The tank is expected greatly reduce calls to emergency services, freeing responders up for other major work such as clearing trees and wires in the event of a storm.

Because the tank is mobile, it can be placed in strategic areas parishwide depending upon the immediate needs in a particular emergency.

The tank was purchased by an Urban Area Security Grant through OEP for around $54,000.

During a presentation at the Gonzales Fire Department on Oriz Roth Road last week, Ascension Leadership Class members announced that registration for the program would start April 1 and go through June 1.

Parish residents dependent on oxygen are encouraged to register for  Oxygen2Ascension.

The registry will allow OEP time to prepare for enough oxygen to meet parish needs, Moran said.

Residents can register by mail, phone, or through the OEP Web site at www.ascensionparish.net.

Registration forms can also be obtained from physicians and home health agencies.