Since November, the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District has been working off a FEMA Grant which has allowed the District to reopen two fire stations and hire 10 firefighters which have come in handy in recent months.
Last night, the Grant paid off and highlights the need for no less than a 5-station service model as all five of our engines were in usage at one time. This means that help to East County was coming all the way from Antioch under our auto aid agreement.
I won’t provide any examples of hypothetical incidents, but just close your eyes and imagine where you live in East County and you are forced to dial 9-1-1. Now imagine in your time of need, your help is coming from Antioch because your own district has limited resources and are all tied up on other calls.
Needless to say, I don’t think you will be happy when seconds count and an engine is not showing up. You would probably find it unacceptable.
Here is a quick round up of last nights activities:
- 5:05 – outside fire on Portsmouth St. in Oakley which required Engine 93 to wait on PG&E and were on scene for about an 65-minutes
- 5:12 – medical emergency on Flores Way in Brentwood which required Engine 52 for nearly 50-minutes.
- 5:48 – medical emergency on Chablis Ct. in Oakley which required Engines 93 and 94 for two-hours and 39 minutes.
- 5:48 – a second medical came in at the same time on Heather Pl. in Brentwood requiring Engine 52, BC5, and BC5 5100. They were on the call for 56-minutes.
- 6:03 – a medical emergency came in on Sunflower Ln, in Brentwood requiring Engine 54 for roughly 57-minutes.
- 6:04 – Traffic collision came in on Balfour and Sellers requiring the services of Engine 59 for nearly 23 minutes.
The two long medicals required helicopter transports. One incident had an elderly woman thinking she had put her vehicle in park which was not the case. She got out of the car and she ran herself over while suffering major injuries. A second incident had a man fall from a roof of a church after losing his footing on a ladder.
It should also be noted, this was no breeze for AMR who worked in conjunction with our fire district as well as helicopter crews who had multiple requests two separate incidents. These incidents also required police on scene as well to investigate. Not to be forgotten is emergency responders responded to a 3:00 am big rig accident on Brentwood Blvd which caused the road to be closed for nearly 12-hours.
Ultimately, the five stations yesterday were able to handle the calls, but imagine that same timeline of incidents occurring (and it will in the future) under a 3-station model when the grant runs dry in Nov. 2014. The system would have been overloaded and folks would have been waiting a long time for help.
East County did dodge a bullet yesterday as the “big” incident did not occur while our resources were committed, but one day that may not be the case and my hope is folks will be aware of this.
What I’ve provided above is not a hypothetical scenario, but it did happen and lives were effected. We were one call away from someone in need for whatever reason not getting a quick response. That is one scenario none of our emergency crews want to experience.
The community needs to be aware that we are on borrowed time thanks to a federally funded grant and unless another revenue enhancement is brought forward with community support, going back to a three-station model is asking for a lot of heartache.
Here are a couple photos from the helicopters landing in Brentwood
By Michael Burkholder