KCFD facing higher summer call volume

By Paul Thompson

Northeast News

June 27, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Missouri – The Kansas City, Missouri Fire Department took roughly 40 more fire and EMS calls per day in May of 2016 than it did in May of 2015, and KCFD officials expect the amount of calls to continue to increase throughout the summer.

KCFD Division Chief Chuck Zang met with the City Council’s Neighborhood and Public Safety Committee on Thursday, June 23. While Zang noted the uptick in call volume, he added that on the whole, KCFD is providing better, faster service to the community than in previous years.

“Our activity is increasing from last year,” said Zang. “We are meeting the goal better, but we’re still not at the optimum goal.”

The department took 8,039 EMS calls in the month of May, with 7,166 (89%) of those categorized as emergency calls. Some 1,018 of those were deemed life-threatening. Of all the calls, Zang told the committee that only nine EMS rides did not meet the KCFD’s goal of arriving within a nine-minute emergency response window.

“One of the nine calls, the ambulance that was assigned had an equipment failure and wasn’t able to respond,” said Zang. “The next unit was quite a bit further away, which increased the response time. I think that was one of the 14-minute ones.”

During another of the nine incidents, Zang reported that there were multiple calls in the same area. In that instance, the department ended up pulling a unit directly from a hospital where they had just dropped of an individual. In several other incidents, according to Zang, increased EMS activity simply meant that the closest vehicles were greater than nine minutes away from the source of the call.

“With the summer months, our activity is going to continue to go up,” added Zang. “So it’s going to continue to be a bigger challenge to try to get on scene in time through the summer months.”

In light of the explanations Zang provided in relation to elevated response times, 5th District Councilwoman and committee chair Alissia Canady asked if there might be another method to inform the public of such instances, in addition to the Council.

“Obviously, everybody does not watch Channel 2 to get this information,” said Canady. “Is this information that can maybe be made available on the web site somewhere?”

KCFD Battalion Chief Vince Boucher agreed that it would be a good idea to post those updates online, and said he’d meet with Fire Chief Paul Berardi to propose the idea. Boucher added that from the KCFD’s perspective, it would also provide an opportunity to educate the public on how exactly response times are recorded.

“I think it would be important to, if we could, make it available as to how we measure these response times,” said Boucher. “I think a lot of people don’t understand that the response time begins at the first keystroke.”

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