AFD Engine 2 on scene UMass Berkshire Dining Commons 12/11/14
My regular readers will find this a "dog bites man" story, or as we brazen Catholic kids used to say growing up, "no shit Sherlock": Amherst Fire Department had its second busiest year on record (but busiest for medical calls) with a total of 5,914 calls, an increase of 3.94% over last year's busy tally of 5,690.
First number is fire calls, second number medicals calls, third number is total
With no staff increase of course.
In fact there has not been a staff increase since 2005 when the town received a $500,000 federal SAFER grant to hire five additional firefighters.
But even with those additional five our current 1.16 ratio of firefighters per 1,000 residents is well below what the International City Managers Association considers a minimum threshold for safety of 1.65 firefighters per 1,000.
Yes the minimum on-duty shift increased to 8 from 7 (the first increase since the 1970s), and UMass kicked in $80,000 in 2014 to fund the "impact shift" where an extra four firefighters geared up for Thursday night through early Sunday morning -- the bewitching hours for the alcohol fueled zombie herds.
Tom Valle, Secretary Amherst Firefighters Local 1764
But even then (with as many as 13 on duty) there were times last fall -- especially in September -- when we had to rely on "mutual aid" ambulances from surrounding towns for medical emergencies because all of our staff were tied up dealing with preventable substance abuse cases.
Northampton FD responding to Amherst College via mutual aid for intoxicated student, as all five AFD ambulances are now occupied.
— Larry Kelley (@amherstac) September 28, 2014
In all last year there were 46 occasions when a medical emergency had to be handled by an out-of-town ambulance, thus requiring precious extra time for a patient to be safely delivered to a hospital.
Something you probably don't think about ... until it's your spouse, or child.
Car vs tree Potwine Lane 12/10/14