A jump in medical emergencies has put Wellington firefighters on record pace for calls.
So far in 2016, they’ve been called out 286 times, which means they could hit about 570 by year’s end.
To put that in perspective, Wellington firefighters responded to 486 calls last year, which topped the previous record of 449 in 2008, according to assistant chief Bill Brown.
“It was the busiest year we’ve ever had,” he said regarding 2015. “An average year is 400 to 425 calls. Last year we had many motor vehicle accidents with fatalities. One was an intoxicated driver. At least two were admittedly distracted drivers that caused the death of another driver.”
Brown said the fire district recorded 10 deaths in 2015 but has thankfully had just two so far this year. The slight uptick in overall activity is due to more medical situations — which made up 42 percent of overall calls in 2015 but has swelled to 50 percent this year as of June.
A medical situation can range from a lift assist to providing backup for the Southern Lorain County Ambulance District.
“Part of our district is Pittsfield Township, which isn’t covered by the SLCAD,” said Brown. “Our districts overlap for the most part but we have sections they don’t cover and they have a section of Rochester that we don’t cover. We also sometimes help out the central district out of Oberlin.”
Brown said a year with a higher number of calls can sometimes be cyclical but deadly crashes in 2015 were an unfortunate anomaly.
“In the last 20 years our calls have tended to increase a little every year,” he said. “Every year can present different challenges but the overall number of calls usually ends up being around the same amount. Last year was unique in the amount of very serious car accidents we had on a stretch of (US) 20. Aside from that the year was nothing really out of the ordinary.”
Fire chief Mike Wetherbee said the district is averaging about 47 calls per month this year and he isn’t sure what led to such a deadly incident rate last year.
“There wasn’t anything in particular,” he said. “There are always ups and downs. Obviously right now we’re trending upward. The last 10 to 15 years have had an upward trend. It’s not that we’re slow this year, it’s that we’re not seeing the stuff that we saw last year. In 2015 we started off the year with a triple fatality motor accident and a double fatality one soon thereafter.”
Wetherbee said structure fires, such as the one at Carter Lumber in Pittsfield Township last November, were also up in 2015.
“We’ve had a lot of stuff to keep us running around this year, just not the amount of large-scale calls,” he said. “We’ve only had a couple of room and content fires this year that were knocked down pretty quickly and one serious accident back in March. Aside from those, the incidents have been much less serious this year so far.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise The Wellington Fire District is on pace for a record 570 calls in 2016, but there have been fewer deadly incidents than last year.