Monday, March 26, 2012

AFD issues SOS

Amherst Fire Department Central Station

Every citizen in town--homeless or living in a $1 million palace--expects that in an emergency, highly trained professional first responders are only a three digit phone call away. 

And that when you do call 911--no matter what time of the day or night, what season of the year or holiday the entire western hemisphere may be celebrating, they will come--and quickly.

Consider this a wake up call, like a smoke alarm in the dead of night.  You have been warned.  Be afraid.


Anonymous said...

pretty sure the population est of around 37,000 includes the students. I find it unlikely that without the students we have a population that high...We only have around 3000 in our primary and secondary schools.

Anonymous said...

So the question is:

Does Town Meeting have within its membership the strength of character to respond to this call for help?

Anonymous said...

To those who don't believe the population numbers: Look at the call volumes for the police Departments (combined UMass, APD, and ACPD) and fire department. They reflect the call volumes of a community of 70,000 to 100,000. This is not an attempt to trick anyone. This is a warning about a REAL problem in our community.

Anonymous said...

A real problem that our elected leadership has shown no willingness to do anything about.

This didn't happen overnight and this isn't the first warning.

But this is a community that whistles past the graveyard on matters of public safety.

Anonymous said...

It's about time the public is made aware of this. Our officials have done nothing. I hope AFD launches an agressive campaign and doesn't stop until it's fixed.

Anonymous said...

How does the town manager feel about delayed ambulance responses?

"That's why we have insurance."

And we expect any more staffing out of this man?

Anonymous said...

would it help if we only served amherst not the other towns??

Ed said...

What is not mentioned is that the AFD is NOT the primary response to either a fire or medical emergency on the UM campus. The UMPD is -- and they are (supposedly) as well trained as a fighter in first aid if not paramedics.

Look at the Jason Vassel footage -- the cops are the ones doing the initial treatment. And a UM student simply can't call the AFD dispatch, all ambulances go through the UMPD.

So AFD is essentially backup for half the listed population, and that does make a difference.

Anonymous said...

-Ed, are you serious? You must be kidding. Cops are trained as first responders. Every firefighter in AFD is at least an Intermediate, a year or so more of intensive training than a cop. Add another year to that for paramedics, and all of the equipment on the ambulance, and you would be correct. The minimum for firefighters is, in-fact, first responder training - so you are partially correct there.

AFD, per the state DPH/OEMS is the first line 911 emergency medical response to UMASS. It is in their service area as submitted and approved by the state DPH and their medical director.

Any UMASS student, or anyone on campus can call APD/AFD dispatch directly. Or the state police. Doesn't change anything.

Cops often arrive on-scene prior to the ambulance because they are out and about in their cruisers. They are not at CDH and they are not at the fire-station waiting for calls. They wait at the fire station because they also staff other vehicles as needed.

But you were just kidding, right?

APD pretty much always gets to car accidents and fire/medical calls in Amherst before AFD. Therefore, APD is primary response to everything in town, even lots of fires.

Anonymous said...

Good Evening,

To clarify a few points of mis-information.

Emergency calls on the Umass Campus are answered at UMPD, AFD is notified immediately, often with no delay.

UMPD is a top notch police force,as is APD, and are well trained 1st Responders. Though none of them are Paramedics, they are truely above average police officers.

AFD sends an engine to all fire alarms on campus, and an Ambulance to all medical emergencies. In addition, AFD provides HazMat Response, and response to other incidents on the campus.

Umass has a quality EH&S Department who responds one person to alarms, provides valuable insight on the building/lab contents, and alarm system.

AFD responds simultaneously to all these incidents on the campus, and are clarly not "backup".

The Life Safety Hazard, along with extensive cutting edge labs, requires that all of these agencies work together to respond on the campus. A system we beleive works well, when staff is sufficient.

Someone should ask other communities, and Fire Departments, if they feel it is sufficient to respond to a fire alarm in an occupied high rise with 3 Firefighters in One Engine?

Just the Facts.

Steve Gaughan
Amherst Fire Fighters Local 1764

Anonymous said...

For someone who is always saying, "facts matter" Ed never seems to get the correct facts in his posts. It's to bad that people might read them and think it's true if they don't see the educated responses.

Ed said...

AFD, per the state DPH/OEMS is the first line 911 emergency medical response to UMASS. It is in their service area as submitted and approved by the state DPH and their medical director.

WRONG. (OR UMass is violating the law, and that wouldn't surprise me. Maybe the issue is that UMass students are denied access to a 911 line -- denied access to an actually approved 911 dispatch.

Any UMASS student, or anyone on campus can call APD/AFD dispatch directly.

Exactly what number do I call from my 546 phone?

I was fully prepared to watch someone die in front of me last summer because I couldn't access AFD dispatch. Bear in mind that I am not even going to graduation because of the UMPD, and my dissertation is saying that.

Exactly what number do I call for the AFD ambulance? Or ANY ambulance?

Don't count me as a person protected by the AFD when I can't call them.

Anonymous said...

You need to either stop commenting on things you clearly know nothing about, or you need to stop making up facts that you want to be true and simply aren't. You absolutely need to stop providing info on AFD to the readers here. Literally ALL of the facts that you state have been "WRONG."
From your 546 phone, you call 259-3080. This is the Amherst public safety dispatch. Now before you complain that your 911 call from that exchange brings you to UMPD dispatch, You need to be aware that if you dial 911 from your cell phone, that you get MSP General Headquarters in Framingham. They then transfer the call to the appropriate dispatch center anywhere in the state.

Anonymous said...


I am curious...
What state law is UMass violating? Also, what is an approved 911 dispatch? I don't know as much as you about MGL or 911 dispatch approvals.

I do think that a nice part about living pretty much anywhere in the US is that you don't need the phone number for every ambulance/fire/police service. Isn't kind of nice that you can goto any phone anywhere and dial 911. When you drive into Hadley or Northampton, you don't need the phone number for the fire departments. You can dial 911.

And, there is a system in place to get you the resources that you need. So if the MSP answer the call at one of the barracks, they forward you to where you need to go.

Anyone in the WORLD can call APD/AFD/UMPD directly. I am just not sure whey they would want to.


The person you are referring to died because an ambulance didn't arrive? Does 911 from campus not work? It says on the UMPD website that you should dial 911. That seems like a separate matter on educating and training people who spend time at UMass.

There is a system in place. Might not be perfect, but you should still consider yourself protected even if you can't call them directly. What if AFD doesn't have an ambulance available? Are you going to personally call around to all the area ambulances until you find one that is available?

You are still protected by AFD even if you don't have the chief's cell phone. You are still protected, when needed, by NFD even if you don't have their number. Same with the state police, the dept. of fire services, the EPA, all of them... it is a system of systems. One single point of entry for all of them. 911

I really am curious with what law the university is breaking by being in AFDs ambulance service area. I can't find it, so if you could pass it alongI would like to read more about it.

Anonymous said...

The resident population of Amherst during the school year is approximately 75k. Off monts 37-39k. During the daylight/early evening hours (with people coming to town for work, class, etc) closes in on 100k. The resources available in case of anything serious (PD or FD) are easily depleted. This town has been playing with fire (no pun) with public safety for YEARS. FYI: look at Cape Cod public safety staffing...they are busy for 3 1/2 to 4 months (oppposite of this community) and their staffing numbers are far greater.

A 911 call from a UMass exchange = UMPD. From an AMH exchange = Amherst Public Safety Dispatch. From a cell phone = MSP (Station B) in NORTHAMPTON (the pole in which the signal is received disseminates the call. GPS is available on most hand held devices nowadays). All agencies have a none emmergency/business line. UMPD = 545-2121. APD/Amh PS = 259-3000.

Please STOP POSTING bad info...only delays the ambulances and cops even more...