Public fire forum promotes emergency medical capabilities
by Brooke Borba | Patterson Irrigator
Nov 14, 2013 | 1777 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In an effort to develop cohesive progress for a long-range plan for local firefighters, the City of Patterson Fire Department and West Stanislaus Fire Protection District invited citizens to take part in a community forum Wednesday, Nov. 6 at Patterson City Hall, City Council Chambers.

The event was hosted in tandem with Emergency Services Consulting International’s associates Don Bivins and Sheldon Gilbert (a former Fire Chief of Alameda), who offered various survey questions to the audience and led a two hour consultation with local Fire Chief Steve Hall.

Though the city and district are in the process of developing a long-range option, the agency is currently looking to improve their growth by focusing their efforts on a three-to five-year plan. The forum was just one of several phased initiatives in progress in order to stage the final strategic plan.

“The reason for this strategic plan, this workshop with the external stakeholders, is a vision I’ve had on how we engage with the community,” said Hall at Wednesday’s meeting.

“There is a lot changing out there in terms of fire service, and as easy as it would be for me to take this on by myself, I feel it’s not tangible. That is why we ask Don and Sheldon to come in and help out with the district and the city.”

Although the entire room swelled with compliments for the local firefighters — particularly their involvement in the community, as well as their courtesy and support — Hall stated that the district was not without problems.

Hall introduced the notion that, over the years, firefighters’ roles have evolved past putting out flames to becoming active in paramedicine and specialty rescues. He also stated that since training mandates have passed, it is harder to acquire more active volunteers with the time and training to be legally helpful.

Another factor that presses down on local firefighters is the fact that many volunteer firefighters are unable to help if an emergency does occur, since many locals commute out of Patterson for employment.

Hall doubts there are 10 volunteers in Patterson today, compared to the 40 volunteers in 1978.

Hall also stated that there was a desperate need for more personnel as the city continues to grow, and predicts that there will have to be two to three more stations in the future to cover the city’s growth pattern.

After a short history of Patterson’s local facets in firefighting, survey packets were distributed for public consideration. At the end of the exercise, the surveys were tallied and presented to the public as to what the community’s wishes, needs and goals were. The results were unanimous.

The votes indicated that residents are primarily concerned with expanding the city and district’s emergency medical capabilities. Hall agrees, noting that 82 percent of the calls they receive are medical, as opposed to actual fires.

According to Hall, certain drugs and actions cannot be administered by Emergency Medical Technicians, but can be by paramedics. It is his wish to have four people stationed per call, with the third being a paramedic.

The total scores of the survey were incorporated into the internal stakeholders meeting the following Thursday, Nov. 7.

“The vision of the district and the city are progressing,” said Hall. “We have to be an effective and efficient fire service, and we have to meet the needs of, not only today, but for the next five years. This isn’t just about revenue. It’s about delivering a source for our customers, and what they want out of the system.”

Contact Brooke Borba at 892-6187, ext. 24, or brooke@pattersonirrigator.com.

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