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Perrysburg-area fire departments are in the midst of the busiest time of the year for runs, but fire chiefs are concerned about the people who are not calling when emergencies occur.
Perrysburg Township Fire Chief Tom Brice’s department is on pace to shatter the total runs record of 1,642 last year, and the department is entering the busiest three months, according to recent statistics. He said the numbers could be higher, but some people don’t call the fire department when there is an emergency, and that bothers him.
“It is still a problem, people not calling 911,” Chief Brice said.
He said at St. Luke’s Hospital, where the department takes most of its patients, about 50 percent of the hospital’s heart attack or stroke victims come in via private car. “Our EMS improves the mortality rate greatly and long-term health.”
Perrysburg Fire Department Chief Jeff Klein said as of Thursday the department had made 924 runs so far this year, up from 879 last year. He said trends show fire runs are down, while emergency runs are way up.
“We are very close to be an ER on wheels,” Chief Klein said.
He talked about how many photos EMTs can take of the heart and transmit to monitors that tell doctors what is going on before the victim gets to the hospital. With all that the fire department can do for heart attack victims, it bothers Chief Klein when he hears that a resident drove a heart attack victim to the hospital
“A large population don’t call,” Chief Klein said. “First reason is they are in denial.
“Having a heart attack is not good and they deny it and have a loved one drive them to the hospital, where if they were in an ambulance it would show it is a heart attack. Also we get comments that [people] don't want to bother the fire department, but we want to take care of them because a heart attack is an important call.”
Both chiefs said the summer months typically have more runs than in winter. On June 3, Perrysburg Township had three structure fires in a matter of hours. Two were caused by items in an oven or on a stove catching fire. The other was a bird's nest catching fire on a patio light.
Chief Brice said that kind of activity in one day is rare, but car crashes are the big reason for more runs at this time of year. People drive faster, Chief Brice said, and “they forget to slow down in rain.” Extreme heat and sports injuries also account for increased runs in summer.
Perrysburg Township has a mutual aid agreement with Perrysburg and Rossford, which was called a factor in the number of fire runs.
“Firefighters get a bad rap that they are sitting on La-Z-Boys,” Chief Brice said. “They can get four or five calls a night back to back and have no lunch or dinner and be out all night.”
He also said a levy last year helped the department “keep its head above water,” with all these runs.
Chief Klein said annexations and Perrysburg’s growth make it difficult to cover the city limits.
As an example, he said, the land on which Levis Commons sits was mostly vacant fields.
He said financially the department is in good shape, but needs to be careful not to over-extend itself.