Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

Last year, Park Ridge Fire Department firefighter/paramedics responded to a record-setting 4,858 calls, according to the department’s 2015 annual report. It’s a number that has Fire Chief Jeff Sorensen acknowledging that the need for adding more paramedics may come as soon as next year.  According to the annual report, last year’s call volume was 7 percent higher than 2014 and 12 percent higher than 2013. Of last year’s incidents, nearly 63 percent were for medical emergencies, 60 percent of these requiring advanced life support.

“We are still able to provide quality and expedient service to the residents of Park Ridge, but if our call volume continues to increase at a rapid pace, we will need to reevaluate our staffing levels,” Sorensen said.

A look at call history compiled by the fire department for the last 15 years shows 2007 had the second-highest number of incidents, with 4,561 recorded, followed by 2011, when there were 4,309. Most years hovered just under or slightly above 4,000 calls.

Sorensen points to a few factors for the growing call volume, including citizens living with more complex and long-term medical conditions that require frequent transportation to hospitals, new residential developments bringing new residents to the city, an immediate care center opening in 2012, and shorter hospital stays for ill patients.

Exactly what the fire department’s future staffing needs will be has not yet been determined, Sorensen said, though he does believe the addition of more housing units and overall development in the city will continue to impact call volume.

The fire department has a staff of 50, with 15 paramedics serving on three shifts each. In 2015, the department paid out $315,540 in overtime, largely to maintain the required staffing levels. But adding new staff could be a challenge. Fire department layoffs — as many as 12 firefighter/paramedics — were included in the city manager’s recent cost-cutting recommendations, should the city’s share of money from the state be reduced.

Two ambulances are staffed each day, Sorensen explained, so if a third call comes in and both ambulances are taking patients to the hospital, out-of-town paramedics will need to be called in. That happened about 300 times last year, the 2015 report shows.

Calls involving two simultaneous incidents jumped dramatically in 2015, from just over 800 to more than 1,300. The average amount of time it takes crews to respond to a call was up last year compared to prior years, Sorensen acknowledged, but it still falls below the department’s goal of 360 seconds.

In terms of fires, there were 35 reported in 2015, one-third of which occurred inside residential buildings.

Going forward, the fire department is trying out new ways of responding to calls, including using a chase vehicle instead of a ladder truck to respond with an ambulance on medical calls.

“The goal of the rescue vehicle is to take some of the bigger rigs off the street when practical,” Sorensen told the City Council on Feb. 10, explaining that this will lead to less wear and tear on the trucks and possibly extend their use.

thanks Dan

About Park Ridge FD Rescue 36 mentioned in the article:

This from Bill Smaha:

Trial period for the Rescue 36 runs until April 30. Staffed with one FF/PM and one LT/PM. Designed to assist on ambulance calls and service calls not requiring a fire suppression vehicle. Rescue 36 is ALS equipped along with hand tools, tool box, rope, PFD’s, mustang suit, and SCBAs. If staffing is above minimums, the rescue will be staffed for 24 hours. If staffing is below minimums, it will be staffed from 8am-6pm.

fire department outfits van as chase vehicle

Park Ridge FD Rescue 36. Larry Shapiro photo

fire department outfits van as chase vehicle

Larry Shapiro photo

fire department outfits van as chase vehicle

Larry Shapiro photo