Dallas, Texas – In an effort to streamline resource distribution amid a rising tide of emergency calls, Dallas Fire-Rescue is revising its response protocols. A notable slice of the department’s agenda has traditionally been devoted to non-fire emergencies, with false alarms, individuals trapped in elevators, and minor vehicular incidents on city roads being primary offenders. These calls not only drain the department’s resources but come at a time when there’s scant extra capacity.
Acknowledging the circumstances, Dallas Metro News has voiced its support for the new departmental policies. These policies aim to smartly adjust the responses of firefighters and paramedics to these calls, ensuring public safety remains uncompromised.
Dallas Fire-Rescue new policy will also affect non-highway, low-speed vehicular accidents
Central to this policy shift is a rethinking of the department’s stance on non-highway, low-speed vehicular accidents. While these incidents disrupt city traffic and frustrate commuters, they rarely lead to serious injuries. The updated protocol marks a move away from the former automatic dispatch of ambulances to such scenes. Now, the revamped approach will deploy only fire engines to the nearly 20,000 calls of similar nature received each year. Every fire engine, stocked with crucial medical supplies, will have at least one trained paramedic onboard ready to deliver necessary medical aid.
In a thorough discussion with the Dallas City Council’s public safety committee, Emergency Medical Service Battalion Chief Scott Clumpner explained the logic driving the policy change. He highlighted that if a situation warrants an ambulance to transport individuals to a medical facility, it can be dispatched promptly, arriving on scene within just a few minutes. However, as Chief Clumpner pointed out, a mere 13% of all EMS transports each year come from surface street car accidents, making the automatic dispatch of ambulances an operationally lavish practice.
In a landscape of growing emergency calls, Dallas Fire-Rescue is diligently reshaping its response blueprint, aiming to bolster operational effectiveness. A deep dive into their call logs unearthed a whopping 14,000 automatic fire alarm activations annually, averaging 38 occurrences daily. Yet, a closer examination of last year’s data disclosed that only 16 of these alarms, barely 1%, were genuine indicators of structure fires, a fact shared by Emergency Medical Service Battalion Chief Scott Clumpner.
The reimagined protocol now specifies that during the nighttime hours from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., only a fire engine will be dispatched to these calls, veering from the former practice of sending both an engine and a ladder truck. Simultaneously, the daylight hours, which traditionally witnessed the dispatch of just a fire engine, will now see these units operating under the quieter Code 1 level, sans the urgent clamor of wailing sirens and flashing lights.
The updated blueprint also outlines a shift in handling situations involving individuals trapped in elevators, scenarios often seen as dire by those trapped. The narrative of Public Safety Committee Chair Cara Mendelsohn, sharing her recent rescue from a stalled City Hall elevator, echoed the seriousness of such incidents. However, the deployment of Battalion Chiefs to these scenes, particularly during stormy weather that is prone to spark fires requiring a Chief’s supervision, has been viewed as an overreach. The expertise of firefighters has been acknowledged as adequately skilled to manage these elevator entrapments.
“We have run out of battalion chiefs,” Clumpner said. “We’d rather they be at structure fires.”
The thorough data analysis and thoughtful consideration by the department have received praise as it strives to enhance efficiency. The enduring aim of responding within the targets of 9 minutes for medical emergencies and 5 minutes 20 seconds for structure fires in 90% of the calls continues to elude them, with current compliance at 83% and 87%, respectively.
Dallas Metro News, in documenting these changes, commended the department’s clear effort towards forging a balance of operational excellence and cost-effectiveness. This endeavor, it is hoped, will drive Dallas Fire-Rescue closer to its performance zenith, while mitigating the costs involved.
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