ES fire chief reports 113 calls in two months

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

By Samantha Jones

The Eureka Springs Fire Department and EMS responded to 113 calls between October and November, according to fire chief Nick Samac.

Samac delivered his regular report to the Western Carroll County Ambulance District on Tuesday, Dec. 18, at the Grassy Knob Fire Department. Samac said there were 12 second-out calls and no third-out calls, saying he was concerned about one call that took responders nearly 30 minutes to get on the scene. The reason for that, Samac said, is the layout of rural areas.

“It’s one of those roads that the homeowners decided, ‘Let’s call it this,’ and they threw it at the wall and it stuck,” Samac said. “We’ve got it on our maps now. It’s just a 911 address glitch. We’ve got it in our books as well.”

He described another instance where it took a little more than 15 minutes to get to the scene, saying that was because of the same problem.

“There was no signage there. There were splits in the road with no direction of which county road was which,” Samac said. “There were no address signs on the homes, no address signs on the mailboxes.”

Samac said the department hopes to see the county beef up signage in rural areas.

“We’ve been trying to push those green address reflective markers,” Samac said. “We’re going to do some more advertisements on that and get those out there. We’ve put in a request to the county road department to rectify that situation.”

In October and November, Samac said, the department billed out $56,930 and collected $31,447.75 from rural residents or rural calls.

“The collected doesn’t necessarily reflect what was billed out in October and November,” Samac said. “This is what we happened to bring in those months, but it might have been a call from six months ago or three months ago. It’s an ongoing cycle.”

The commission also heard from Michael Fitzpatrick of the Eureka Springs rural area, who said October was busier than usual with 18 calls. November was slower, Fitzpatrick said, with only seven calls.

“There was no special reason why it should be so busy,” Fitzpatrick said. “It was just a mixture of everything.”

There was a call where there were no responders on the scene, Fitzpatrick said. He said that was because ESFD could get there faster.

“The squad took care of that situation and it was OK,” Fitzpatrick said. “The way we approach it with our responders is if a responder hears a call and they’re five miles away, they’ll attend to it. If it’s more than five miles away, they’ll do an analysis on the situation. Is this a situation where multiple people are needed? If it sounds like a straightforward routine, they don’t go.”

Holiday Island fire chief Bob Clave reported 39 calls in October, with 33 calls in city limits and six calls in rural areas. There were 35 calls in November, he said, with 29 calls in city limits and six in rural areas. Clave recalled an incident where his team responded to a car accident, saying the car was located over a hill.

“We chose not to extricate until the wrecker got the car on a stable surface,” Clave said. “Hence the long scene time. Other than that, it’s really just been our normal day-to-day.”

Clave said he’s been grateful to have Air Evac Lifeteam located in Holiday Island.

“We’re fortunate to have them based in Holiday Island,” Clave said. “There are so many times up to now that we’ve waited a little longer than we liked, but now we’ve got them in our back yard. We used them twice today, and they’re great.”

Also at the meeting, commissioner Sam Ward asked everyone to sign a card for Eureka Springs firefighter Billy Summers’ retirement.

“I just want to say how lucky we are to have ESFD, after some experience with other folks,” Ward said. “Of course, I think ESFD is lucky to have us as commissioners.”

Samac said he appreciated the commission recognizing Summers. Summers had a retirement party on Dec. 8, Samac said, and Eureka Springs Mayor Butch Berry attended.

“He declared a proclamation of Billy Summers Day, which is Dec. 8,” Samac said. “We all got together and bought him a nice gold-plated laser-engraved fire ax. It means a lot to him.”

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