Nearly a callout a day under the new first responder program kept Creston Fire Rescue members busy in 2015, Chief Mike Moore said on Monday.
“There is no way we could do this without the work experience program,” Moore said. “We would be burning out our volunteer members in no time otherwise.”
Firefighters from the Creston department responded to a total of 549 calls last year, 330 of which were first response calls. The first response program requires the fire department to respond to all emergency calls, including certain types of medical issues.
“It’s a good program that has value beyond what people might realize,” he said. “When the ambulance arrives on the scene first, our people look for ways to contribute. That can mean anything from shoveling snow from sidewalks to prepare for a gurney transfer, going through a window to avoid breaking a door down or providing traffic control. It is important for emergency responders to work together.”
Moore said his department put in a total of nearly 3,000 hours by responding to emergencies including structure fires, hazardous material spills, motor vehicle accidents (which occasionally require use of the Jaws of Life), downed power lines and interface fires. An estimated $4.1 million in damage was saved due to firefighter responses, he reported.
“Because we are averaging nearly a callout a day for first responders, it would put a huge burden on our on-call members,” he said. “We would lose some of them if they were getting called away from work regularly.
“Our five-person work experience program team needs experience, though, and they get a lot from all those callouts. Every response they make adds to their knowledge base, helping prepare them for their chosen careers.”
Structural fires and explosions accounted for 18 emergency responses, totalling 475 hours of firefighters’ time, or more than 25 person-hours per incident, Moore said.