Rolling Green fatal fire (photo by Stephanie Jernigan
If a terrorist bomb detonates in downtown Amherst during peak traffic period you would expect AFD to require nine or more mutual aid ambulance runs from surrounding professional departments over a four hour period.
In fact these days all professional departments practice for those unthinkable Mass Causality Incidents.
But when a routine late Saturday night into early Sunday morning this early in the semester requires nine mutual aid ambulances (mostly for intoxicated college age youth at UMass) something is dramatically wrong.
And the thought that keeps Chief Nelson awake at night is what happens if a major structure fire occurs in the middle of that EMS mayhem, such as we saw a few years ago at Rolling Green that left one UMass student dead?
Holyoke has come under fire for having one engine on brown out that could have been helpful in that fatal fire on New Year's Day.
But the staffing shortage at AFD is almost like an everyday brownout since Engines or ambulances can't drive themselves.
Yes the UMass funded "impact shift" with four extra firefighters was not on duty because officials felt it too early in the semester to be necessary.
But even with two extra potential ambulances Mutual Aid would still have been required during that troubling four hour period.
You have to wonder how Northampton is going to feel when they send all their available ambulances to Amherst and one of their own citizens suddenly needs medical assistance?