Epic’s annual community grants are aimed at continuing to improve the capabilities of local emergency services and charities.

Of the $120,000 the company awarded locally in 2019 grant money, a combined $87,000 is going to Fitch-Rona EMS and the Verona fire and police departments. Another $30,000 goes to the Badger Prairie Needs Network food pantry, and $2,500 goes the Verona Public Library to pay for summer reading program book prizes.

Fitch-Rona EMS will receive $47,500 to acquire three LUCAS automated chest compression systems, which provide continuous compressions during cardiac arrest.

EMS chief Patrick Anderson told the Press in an email there’s overwhelming evidence a LUCAS compression device can save lives by ensuring “quality CPR” after early intervention and defibrillation.

“It is another well researched fact that providers become fatigued after only two minutes of CPR,” he said. “This means that they don’t push deep enough, or fast enough or don’t completely come off the chest.”

With the device, he said, first responders can maintain compressions as long as it has power.

The fire department will use $22,000 for rescue bags and patient packaging equipment for rescuing people from confined spaces, along with air monitoring apparatus. The money will also be used for training firefighters to use the new equipment.

Deputy chief Daniel Machotka said the resources will help the fire department better serve the community, including helping out with special areas of coverage.

The police department will acquire an evidence cabinet and a lab freezer using $18,000 from a pair of grants.

Police chief Bernie Coughlin said the evidence cabinet and lab freezer are necessary for storing sensitive and potentially dangerous materials, such as biological evidence.

Badger Prairie Needs Network was another major recipient of the grant money, receiving a total of $30,000 for a variety of uses. Of that money, $25,000 was for ongoing operations, executive director Marcia Kasieta said, and will help its food pantry feed more than 14,000 people next year.

Another $5,000 will go toward its Kitchen to Table initiative. That will fund the purchase of microwaveable containers so BPNN can recover surplus food from local cafeterias and repackage it to distribute to food pantries throughout southern Wisconsin. The concept is to send it to people who rely on microwaves, including motels or “in-between housing,” Kasieta wrote.