GEORGETOWN — Acting Chief Chuck Savage is pleased to report that the Georgetown Fire Department significantly reduced the department’s average response times to overnight ambulance calls, fires, and emergencies at no extra cost to taxpayers.
“How quickly we can get our apparatus and ambulances on the road and en route to a fire or a medical emergency — regardless of the time of day— is vitally important,” said Acting Chief Savage. “The scheduling change has reduced our response times during overnight hours from an average of 8 to 10 minutes last year to just 2 to 3 minutes this year, a drastic reduction that could save both lives and property during emergencies.”
The response time reduction was achieved as part of a project that saw members of the fire department donate labor to refurbish part of the fire station at 47 Central St., at no cost to taxpayers.
Among renovations that were made to the station was the conversion of office space into a pair of bunk rooms. The addition of bunk space at the station enabled the department to change the schedule of the department’s firefighters to include overnight shifts between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Those hours were previously covered only by call firefighters responding from their homes.
The department is staffed by four full-time firefighters and approximately 25 part-time/call firefighters. Implementing a schedule that has firefighters on duty at all hours, 24/7, means there are no longer any times when the Georgetown Fire Department has to wait for call firefighters to get to the station before a fire engine or ambulance can respond to a call. The scheduling changes were accomplished without requesting additional funding for the department.
A comparison of response times between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. from May 2020 to December 2020, and the response times during those hours from May 2021 to December 2021 shows a significant reduction in response times.
From May to December 2020, response times to overnight calls averaged between 8 to 10 minutes, while response times to overnight calls between May and December of this year averaged just 2 to 3 minutes.
Acting Chief Savage notes a recent study noted by the National Library of Medicine which concluded that the survival rate of “Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest” drops by 50% as ambulance response times go from 1 minute to 10 minutes.
“The significance of this reduction in response times is crucial to the safety of Georgetown residents, and I am proud of everyone at the Georgetown Fire Department who helped us achieve this potentially lifesaving improvement in service,” said Acting Chief Savage.