Archive for February 25th, 2020

Does Chicago have a shortage of ambulances? (more)

Excerpts from

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has announced that Chicago will get more ambulances – in response to ongoing CBS 2 investigative reports documenting a serious shortage. But the problems continue. And recently, 911 Center dispatchers were juggling calls from the public and even first responders firefighters needing ambulance assistance, but were told no ambulances were available.

On Jan. 21 during a two-and-a-half-hour period, the city said there were 67 calls for ambulances on the South Side that lead to problems. 

At 2:23 p.m., a caller told the 911 dispatcher: “There’s an accident. Somebody’s hurt real bad.” It was a two-car crash at 71st and State streets. One car was on fire. A firefighter on the scene called for an ambulance. “We’re out of ambulances,” the dispatcher responds. A firefighter made a second call and told the dispatcher: “We’re going to need a second ambulance at this address.” The dispatcher replied: “All right Truck 20, you need two?… We have no one.”

Three minutes later, another 911 call came in from the Ford Assembly Plant at 126th Street and Torrence Avenue. The 911 caller said: “There’s a lady that’s pregnant. She’s having pains. They say she’s having contractions.” A fire engine arrived first and called for an ambulance. The response from a dispatcher was, “We don’t have anybody right now.”

And then at 2:31 p.m., a call came in near 92nd Street and Perry Avenue. The dispatcher said: “Person down for (Engine) 82.” The homeowner ran to his neighbors for help after his wife fell and hit her head. The neighbor called 911 for an ambulance. The fire engine arrived with a paramedic on board.  Engine 82 called the 911 center for a status report: “Eighty-two to Englewood. We’re doing CPR here.” Ambulance 22 arrived 15 minutes after the first call to 911.

Illinois Department of Public Health records show the Chicago Fire Department has committed to a response time goal of six minutes. In all these cases, the ambulance response times were three to five times longer than that six-minute goal.

Just hours after reporters started asking questions about these incidents, dispatchers at the got an email from Fire Commissioner Richard Ford who wrote, “The process of indicating that CFD is out of available ambulances or asking for any available ambulances over the radio will no longer be allowed.”

The question is when will Mayor Lightfoot do something about it?

A spokesman for the Chicago Fire Department denies the fire commissioner is trying to cover up the ambulance shortage problem, saying in a written statement that is not only unwarranted but demonstrably false. He said there were three other ambulances available in other parts of the city in the time period during which the people in this story were waiting for an ambulance. The fire department is now working with the Office of Emergency Management to develop specific language that will avoid future confusion. He also said that to improve ambulance response times, the fire department and University of Chicago Urban Labs are completing a comprehensive analysis of the ambulance fleet to ensure it meets the needs of the city. The study will focus on the impact of five new ambulances added to the fleet by the previous mayor following earlier investigative reports.

thanks Danny

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Working fire in Chicago, 2-23-20

This from Tim Olk:

Chicago Fire Department Working Fire at 1320 N Pine, 2/23/20

Pierce ladder truck at Chicago fire

Tim Olk photo

Spartan fire engine in Chicago

Tim Olk photo

Chicago Firefighter with PPE

Tim Olk photo

Chicago Firefighter with PPE

Tim Olk photo

Female Firefighter in PPE

Tim Olk photo

Chicago Firefighters

Tim Olk photo

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New engine for Schiller Park

From the Fire Service, Inc. Facebook page:

Congratulations to Schiller Park Fire Department on the order of their 2021 E-ONE Fire Trucks Pumper!

We are eager to begin the process of building an apparatus your community can depend on!

Schiller Park FD orders new fire engine

click to download


thanks Danny

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Wonder Lake Fire Protection District news

Excerpts from the

The Wonder Lake Fire Protection District is asking voters to approve a referendum March 17 election ballot increasing its property tax levy. An average homeowner with a $100,000 home currently pays $153 in taxes to the Wonder Lake Fire Protection District. If the referendum is successful, that would go up by $33, so the homeowner would pay $186. The amount of taxes currently able to be levied for the fire district is $963,994. The amount the WLFPD is asking for is $1,152,054.

One of the reasons this increase is needed is because the department is dealing with a 52 percent increase in general and workers compensation insurance. These are based on the pay of the worker, and will increase significantly when minimum wage becomes $15 an hour. The minimum wage increased this year, and per state law, will continue to go up until 2025, when it hits that $15 mark. With the current tax rate, the fire district’s budget will be consumed by payroll, leaving them with a deficit for operations.

Calls to the fire protection district have gone up by 43 percent over the past 19 years. Having only three members causes the fire district to have jump crew. If there’s a call for an ambulance, all three go to the ambulance call, and if there’s a fire call, all three go to the fire call.  If people are waiting for an ambulance or fire truck to come from McHenry or Richmond, that could mean a 12- to 15-minute wait.

In addition, the district’s equipment is aging. One of their front line engines is 26 years old. Engines made now are safer in the event of a rollover and have more protection for the people in the vehicles. With newer equipment, maintenance on the vehicles would go down, and the district could stop putting more money it can’t afford into these engines.

If the referendum gets approved, the fire district won’t actually see any additional money for a year, but after that year they would put a bid out for a new engine. If this referendum is not approved, it could mean potentially lowering the on-duty personnel.

There have been things the fire district has done to lower costs for the community, such as applying for state grants. In addition, they have minimized their command staff by not replacing people when they resigned.

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