By Scott Sullivan
Saugatuck Township Fire District calls, which in 2016 reached a record 875, are even with last year’s first-quarter numbers.
“Due to a milder winter, we had fewer motor vehicle incidents (10, as opposed to 26 after three months in 2016), said department IT director Erik Kirchert.
“Grace of Douglas calls keep dropping as well,” he continued — from 11 through March last year to just two so far in 2017.
The department in mid-2015 discontinued responding to non-emergen- cy calls, such as standby and lift assists, at the nursing home.
Most of the first quarter’s 151 calls, 90 to be precise, 59.6 percent, were for rescue and emergency medical services. There were 20 service calls, 12 good intent responses, 10 hazardous condition (no fire) calls, seven special incidents, six false alarms, three severe weather and natural disaster responses and, interesting for a fire district, just three fire calls.
Those distributions are similar to recent past years.
Increased use of metrics — including, this year, tracking calls to Saugatuck city in south and north zones —helps the department plan better.
The aforementioned tracking, said Kirchert, “will enable us to measure our response times more accurately, i.e. a call to Oval Beach takes us longer as opposed to a call on Butler Street.”
The department through March 31 had responded to 26 Saugatuck city north calls, 4 Saugatuck city south incidents, 43 Douglas calls, two at Grace, 27 in Saugatuck Township north, 33 in the township south, four on I-196 and 12 outside the district area.
The department also last year began measuring overlapping calls — i.e. another emergency incident that requests response that occurs within an hour of a previous emergency. Those numbers are also down so far this year: from 31 in 2016 to 20 through March 31.
Response times, which can be affected by many variables, have averaged 5.75 minutes, up from 5.54 minutes at the same time last year.
Speaking of variables, neither this or last year’s 151 total first-quarter incidents matched the 168 logged at this point in 2015. Yet a larger than even expected spike in summer season numbers last year resulted in 875 total, up 10.5 percent from 2015’s previous-record 783.
The best database in the world is no substitute for vigilance: being ready at any time.