Kudos go out to ConFire Chief Daryl Louder for not only speaking at the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association, but answering a series of questions that should be required viewing for those not only serviced by ConFire, but those in East County who continue to suggest cockamamie ideas going forward.
Here are the questions asked by CoCO Tax
- What was going to happen with agriculture land?
- Emergency Response being 70% of response. Why are you in the emergency medical call business. Why does an engine show up to my medical emergency? Is there some way to transfer that responsibility and reduce cost?
- Had you looked at changing the system? How much does it cost to roll a truck to an incident?
- Senior exemption: Would you have a senior exemption? What percentage of the parcels belong to seniors?
- Variety of questions on Pensions. What about the assertion that pensions are the reason for the tax. (14-minute mark)
- Can you define “de-pool” pensions?
- Do you want to touch on those needs (capital expenditures) and for example how long it’s been since you bought a milk & dollar fire truck.
- Mutual Aid: Are there plans to change your mutual aid (to East County) and are their plans to take over East County?
While I will not type out the entire 30 minutes of Q&A which Lisa Vorderbrueggen Contra Costa Times posted within her article, I will address question number two which provides a lot of information as to why leaving the engines in the stations during medical calls is a bad idea and the Chief puts to rest a lot of the misconceptions people proclaim on the blog sites.
Not mentioned in the video is for ECCFPD, it’s estimated that leaving engines in the stations saves under $150,000 per year which is very little considering the value of a life.
CoCo Tax Association Lunch Question: Why are you in the emergency medical call business? Is there some way to transfer that responsibility and transfer cost? Why does an engine show up to my medical emergency?
Louder: “The county Emergency Medical Services plan (EMS) plan calls for an integrated system. It’s not something the fire service dreamed up, it’s the county plan. Fire service first response, then transportation and continued treatment by ambulances (AMR). If you look at our system you find out the systems complement each other. It’s not an either or, but an integrated systematic approach to medical care and patient care.
AMR has a finite amount of units that they staff every day and they depend on fire service units to get their quickly and to be able to access the patient, to be able to treat and stabilize the patient while they bring the transport unit and then if necessary to transport to the hospital. That is what the county plan calls for. AMR acknowledge that’s exactly what the plan calls for that they depend on both of our resources and responses to protect the community.
The other important thing to remember is that whenever they pick up a patient and take someone to the hospital, they are out of service for 45 minutes to an hour and fifteen minutes. By the time they treat, transport, turn them over to hospital staff, clean the unit, and restock the engine and all the stuff that it takes to do that and that fire unit that was their initially to help the patient goes back in service and take next emergency call.
The other important thing to remember, and I mentioned this earlier, is that our staffing level and our needs of one firefighter per thousand the 28 fire stations is based on fire response and fire needs. Everything we do from a medical standpoint truly is added value. It doesn’t mean we can reduce our capacity or it doesn’t mean we can reduce our units, but it allows us to enhance our service and provide additional service to the community which is already mandated for us to have those capabilities.
It is an integrated system by county policy; it is a system that compliments between ARM and the fire service. We are going to be there anyhow, we have to staff our stations for fire protection. We are providing additional service by being able to run the emergency medical calls.
It doesn’t make sense that if you have a staff unit with paramedics and EMT sitting close to that patient, and we many times arrive first, that we would be sitting in a fire station waiting for a fire call and not provide service to that community. So that is what we are trying to do, maximize our performance, maximize our efficiency and provide the services the community needs.
People ask why we show up with a fire truck… the reality is the fire truck it is a very versatile and flexible platform for us to be able to conduct our operation. If we respond from the firehouse to an emergency medical call, as soon as that patient is taken care of by AMR, that unit (fire engine) becomes available for the next call. If that happens to be a fire call or a rescue call our firefighters are already on a fire fighting unit and respond directly from that incident to the next incident. They don’t have to go back and switch units. They don’t have to have a single person driving a fire truck that is trying to go on an emergency response, watch the road, talk on the radio, look at a map, and do all that type of stuff themselves. So we keep them together as a unit, they go to the calls, they get in service and they get ready for the next call and it really gives us a very efficient, flexible, platform for us to do multiple types of operations for an all hazards system.”
At the 21:30 minute mark in the video, the Chief Louder makes a solid statement that should be a real eye opener to the public.
“As fire chief, what I cannot do is lose 7-10 companies out of our community fire protection system. I can’t protect the community that way. Regardless of what delivery system you want to talk about, regardless of staffing levels or anything else. I can’t protect this community of 600,000 people with 7-10 less fire companies out there. That is just a given.
So what we try to do is balance for what we are asking the public and for also what we hope the general economy gradually improve where we can try and hold things together for a period of time and hopefully then be able to address more capital needs.
We have used the grand system to address some of our capital needs. We got a new ladder truck within the past year where it was an 80-20 split. We have a new radio system where the grants paid the majority of that. We have a new SCBA cylinder so we are trying to leverage all the opportunities that we have out there. We are trying to hold our capital needs. Basically defer them and hold it together and focus mainly on front line service delivery and protection to the community. And yes, we haven’t addressed all those needs and yes would it be nice to have $200 from everybody, absolutely and that would address that but we are cognizant of trying to have a balance between what we are asking from the public and providing critical services,” said Louder.