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Medical emergency responses continue to climb for city’s fire department

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Medical emergency responses continue to climb for city’s fire department

A breakdown of the calls Manteca Fire Department responded to in 2008.

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POSTED January 30, 2009 1:28 a.m.
Call it the Manteca Medical Emergency Response Department.

For the fourth straight year in 2008, the number of medical emergency calls Manteca Fire Department responded to increased while all fire calls remained relatively flat.

Fire Chief Chris Haas’ final annual report - he retires today – showed the department handled about 12 times as many medical emergencies in 2008 than actual fire calls.

Fire calls went from 269 in 2007 to 270 in 2008. Emergency medical calls climbed from 2,963 in 2007 to 3,120 in 2008. Overall calls that also include hazardous spills, odor investigations and service calls topped 4,800 for the first time in 2008. There were a total of 4,589 calls in 2007.

Last year marked the third straight annual drop in the overall dollar losses due to fire. Fire losses in non-inflation adjusted dollars stayed below $1 million until 2004 when they reached $1,322,416. Losses shot up to $2,414,320 in 2005 and then reached a record $2,913,310 in 2006. Losses dropped to $2,631,465 in 2007 and then to $1,031,375 last year.

The three engine companies’ average response time improved from 2007 to 2008. They averaged 4.7 minutes to respond to a call in 2007 and 4.27 minutes in 2008.

The Manteca  general plan  that established policies that the city shoots for in terms off service level targets an average response time of five minutes or less.

The five-minute response time is a mantra for those who make a living putting out fires and responding to heart attacks.

Having firefighters and equipment on the scene of a fire or medical emergency within five minutes is essential for two reasons:

• The chance of surviving a heart attack or major trauma starts dropping off rapidly after five minutes.

• “Flash over” when fires literally erupt occur within five minutes of the first visible flame.

It sounds like a lot of time, but it really isn’t. A call being placed, equipment dispatching and the engine actually rolling out of a fire station consume the first two and a half minutes.

That leaves 180 seconds for firefighters to reach a structure fire or a major medical emergency.

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