Excerpts from the MortonNewsTimes.com:

When moving to a community, people often look at education, taxes and amenities that a city offers. One amenity that people may not be aware of in East Peoria is that the cardiac arrest survival rate is twice the national average, due to the efforts and training of the East Peoria Fire Department.

City Commissioner John Kahl, who is over public health and safety, presented a report about the fire department with statistics compiled by Fire Chief Al Servis. 

“I don’t know of any other community south of I-80 that has that [survival rate],” he said. 

The night before Kahl gave this presentation, his fellow city commissioner Dan Decker, who is an East Peoria firefighter, was involved in saving a life.  “Commissioner Decker was on duty last night and once again, they revived one of our citizens that was in full cardiac arrest,” Kahl said.

The fire department consists of 45 members with a total budget of $5.6 million for 2015-16. Under Servis, there are three assistant fire chiefs who have dual roles. One serves as a fire marshal, one oversees fire training and operations, and the other  is the EMS coordinator. Each shift has three lieutenants and 13 firefighters. 

“Not only has [Chief Servis] done an outstanding job to date, he is our first paramedic fire chief” Kahl said.

On Sept. 1, other history was made as the first female company officer, Veronica Marmitt was promoted to lieutenant. 

In 2015, the fire department had 3,737 calls and 9,231 responses. Of the 3,737 calls, 2,640 were emergency/medical and 77 were fires. The call volume in 2015 increased 11.5 percent over 2014.

The East Peoria Fire Department is unique in central Illinois, Kahl said, because everyone is advanced life support certified.

In 2015, there were 28 structure fires. The fire department responded: 71 percent of the time in under 5 minutes; 82 percent of the time in under 6 minutes; and 98 percent of the time in under 8 minutes.

The total value of the buildings that caught fire in 2015 was $690,000. Of that amount, $155,000 was considered a loss.

The fire department offers free instruction in CPR, with over 300 students trained in 2015.

“We had 850 business inspections by company officers and that’s going to be tied into one of the goals this year … a need to integrate code enforcement and inspections. We actually have over 1,500 businesses here in East Peoria, and as we continue to grow there’s a real need to change the way we do business from a life safety standpoint,” Kahl said.