AFD on scene UMass Southwest area 2:15 a.m.
The first call came in at 1:59 AM, a routine as rain "still alarm" in a UMass high rise dorm. Two minutes later it changed from routine to a full blown scramble as reports from UMPD indicated smoke in the building and an "orange glow" on the 14th floor causing a second call to all units, the dreaded "box alarm."
Almost instantly four fire engines and all available ambulances (two out of five) are converging on the scene.
14th floor room where alarm originated (circled in red). Beyond reach of Ladder trucks
Meanwhile just down Commonwealth Avenue, a river of students is converging on Kennedy dorm and the rest of the Southwest towers from a concert called, appropriately enough, "Code Black" that just let out at the Mullins Center.
The smoke , thankfully, turned out to be burnt popcorn.
AFD packing up the hose
Even as all units were still making busy at the base of Kennedy tower two more calls came in for ETOH (intoxicated) students -- one at nearby John Quincy Adams tower and the other on the Amherst College campus.
These, in addition to the half-dozen that had already occurred since midnight at the Mullins Center, all for intoxicated college aged youth. Even though AFD Chief Tim Nelson had convinced facility management to have two ambulances (one from Easthampton and the other Belchertown) standing by as part of "Mullins Center Command" they were quickly overwhelmed by calls for service.
AFD on scene Mullins Center 12:45 a.m.
At one point, around 12:45 a.m., two AFD ambulances were simultaneously tied up at the Mullins Center for intoxicated patrons. In all the concert required 6 ambulance transports (one by Easthampton FD, 2 by Belchertown FD and 3 by AFD) as well as an additional 21 patients seen by paramedics on scene.
The alcohol induced drain on public safety also impacted police as both UMPD and APD assist AFD at the scene of all medical emergencies, even when it's simply substance abuse calls.
Oftentimes the calls to respond to an ETOH student included the addition information that the patient had fallen, resulting in a head laceration.
Eighteen months ago a young woman under the influence of alcohol fell while walking on Fearing Street, hitting her head on the unforgiving concrete curb, resulting in death.
Last week my 12-year-old daughter fell from a horse resulting in a head and neck injury (which proved minor). When my wife called 911, EMS was quick to arrive. Late last night into early this morning, that vital lifesaving system was heavily taxed -- almost to the breaking point.
Mostly to preventable alcohol or drug related calls.
Live Tweeting a disaster:
AFD E5 responding to UMPD headquarters for severely intoxicated male prisoner.
— Larry Kelley (@amherstac) April 13, 2014
Indiegogo fundraiser for Amherst Record Digital News