by Winston Chua
It’s good to know that in the SanGabriel Valley, fire engines and paramedics are on their way, quicker than everbefore, in spite of the today’s sagging economy. By adjusting their budget so thatno major services compromise their ability to respond to emergency situations,the San Gabriel Fire Department has made it their priority to make sure their commitmentto help is quicker than ever.
“Quicker than ever” meansthat help is on the way within a minute from the time you press 911.
Joe Nestor,San Gabriel’s six foot six fire chief, says that that could only be possiblethrough the development of United Response in 2005 that provides automatic aid.
UnitedResponse took over the system known as mutual aid, where a call would be madeto a dispatcher who was required to seek permission from various local firedepartments before any units would be allowed to be sent out. The more firestations that were unavailable, the longer the wait would be. Response timescould stretch as long as 15 minutes.
Since 2005,11 cities are all connected to the same dispatch center. Just by telling justone central dispatcher, located in Glendale using the Verdugo FireCommunications System, help is on the way. Whether your house is on fire,you’ve got a heart attack or you’ve fallen down the stairs, the caller receivesan immediate response from the first available fire department closest to thescene. At that point the notified stations are then ordered to be sent out,with no middle man in the way.
In 2005,Monrovia, Pasadena, South Pasadena, Alhambra and Monterey Park firedepartments, paramedics and ambulances responded to an arson fire that savedthe lives of three people, one being the arsonist, all within 30 minutes.
UnifiedResponse has been successful in reducing the number “brownouts” overthe past fiscal year. These brownouts, which can take place when the economysuffers, would have meant closing down one of San Gabriel’s two fire stationsfor periods of time, thus leaving one stations with the increasedresponsibility of covering a four square mile radius instead of its usual two.
The SanGabriel Fire Department does not leave the state budget cuts unscathed,however. They will tighten their belts by deferring the purchases of newequipment and reducing travel to conferences. There will also be less moneyavailable for extensive training, at least until things get financiallybetter.
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