Fire chief: Screening reduces emergency runs

As has been the trend since the Pine Bluff Fire and Emergency Services Department began making emergency medical runs, those calls dominated the department’s activity last month, but at a lower rate than a year ago.

Last month, the department responded to 184 calls for medical assistance, compared with 223 such calls in January 2013.

During a meeting of the Pine Bluff City Council Public Safety Committee on Monday, Fire Chief Shauwn Howell said the difference resulted from new screening procedures by emergency dispatchers.

Howell said that in the past, department personnel sometimes were sent to calls that were not actually emergency situations.

For example, Howell said, some of the calls were for people needing transportation back to nursing homes after being treated at dialysis clinics or the like.

“By the dispatchers asking a couple more questions, we have eliminated some of those calls,” Howell said. “Obviously, in the event of trauma like a gunshot victim, accident or something like that, we’re going to go.”

According to the monthly report, the department responded to a total of 407 calls in January — 33 more than for the same month a year ago.

Of those calls, 33 were for brush/grass/rubbish fires, more than double a year ago.

There were 11 structure fires, two each in Wards 1 and 3, six in Ward 2 and one in Ward 4.

The department also responded to eight reported vehicle fires in January and 14 vehicle accidents with injuries.

They answered 27 alarms and had 10 false alarms.

According to the report, there were 120 other calls, which Howell said included things like fire sprinklers being activated at various business locations because of the cold weather and busted pipes.

The fire prevention report showed that firefighters installed 47 smoke alarms in January and conducted 23 home surveys. There were nine burn permits issued.