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Public Service Announcements of January 11, 2017

Free radon test kits available

SOUTHERN COLORADO — Las Animas/Huerfano Counties District Health Department is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a nationwide campaign to educate Americans about the dangers of radon exposure and to encourage them to take action to protect their homes and families. In your communities, the Las Animas Huerfano Counties District Health Department is handing out Free Radon Kits at the Las Animas, Huerfano and Custer County Health Departments. Radon is present at elevated levels in about 44% (Las Animas County), 59% (Huerfano County), and 36% (Custer County) of homes.

Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that is dispersed in outdoor air, but which can reach harmful levels when trapped in buildings. Scientists have long been concerned about the health risk of radon, but never before has there been such overwhelming proof that exposure to elevated levels of radon causes lung cancer in humans.

EPA estimates that radon is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths per year. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. after smoking and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. “However,” says Kim Gonzales, Executive Director from Las Animas Huerfano Counties District Health Department “because you can’t see or smell radon, people tend to downplay the health effects and ignore the possibility that there might be a silent killer in their homes.”

Testing homes for elevated levels of radon is simple and inexpensive. Radon test kits can be purchased at local hardware and home improvement stores or directly from radon testing companies. Many are priced under $25. Radon problems can be fixed by qualified contractors for a cost similar to that of many common home repairs such as painting or having a new water heater installed.

The Las Animas Huerfano Counties District Health Department urges Las Animas, Huerfano and Custer County residents to take action by testing their homes for radon. Radon poses a serious threat to our community’s health but there is a straightforward solution. For more information on radon, radon testing and mitigation, and radon-resistant new construction, call Las Animas Huerfano Counties District Health Department at719-846-2213 (John Martinez) or visit our website at, or visit EPA’s Radon website at

SPRHC will offer EMS training courses this spring

WALSENBURG — Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center EMS has been approved by the Colorado Department of Health as a Colorado state training center for Emergency Medical Services. Spanish Peaks EMS was able to procure this approval based on the fact that it is now part of the SPRHC family, as designated training facilities must be part of a hospital organization.

This designation puts our regional healthcare facility at the forefront in community training leadership not only in Huerfano County, but for the entire Southeast Colorado region. EMS training has typically been provided by community colleges at a higher cost to students. Spanish Peaks will be able to provide this same training and even more courses in healthcare to regional students more affordably, and in a facility where they have a chance to be employed upon completion of required coursework and licensure.

SPRHC is working closely with Conejos County EMS in developing a unified training program, allowing all southern and southeastern EMS providers, both paid and volunteer, access to education and support through initial and continuing education courses that are affordable. Course offerings will range from Emergency Medical Responder to EMT – Intermediate, CPR and First Aid. This will allow for greater access for our community to health education and allows more options for rural volunteer agencies.

In the past, people in our region have had to travel to Pueblo, Trinidad or other areas to receive training for a new career as an EMT, and seeing that obstacle as a challenge, a leadership team made up of Kay Whitley, CEO; Cindy Gutierrez, Director of Emergency Services; Peggy Gilmore and Eve Kwiatkowski decided to make low cost EMS training available to our community here at home. And now, after a lot of hard work, it is happening at SPRHC!

Classes for our community will begin spring 2018, and will also include ACLS, PALS, GEMS, PHILS, PEARS, and Heartsaver certifications. For information on class schedules and all other questions, please contact Eve Kwiatkowsky at, or call 719-240-1180.

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