Friday, July 25, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

A new perspective on the Davis Fire Department

RichRifkinW

By
From page A4 | September 04, 2013 |

Perhaps the most permanent impression of my four-hour ride-along with the Davis Fire Department will be their rapid response to each call.

I arrived at the downtown station a few minutes before 1 p.m. a week ago Tuesday. After introducing myself to Capt. Bobby Weist and firefighters Burke Cahill and Ryan Crow, I was told that they had a training session planned. Another engine company would be joining us shortly.

But then, at 1:03 p.m., the alarm sounded. There was a medical emergency on East Eighth Street. Engine 31 was dispatched.

In 25 seconds, the three firefighters and I were out of the station, speeding toward an apartment building across from the former Valley Oak Elementary School. Before this first experience, I assumed it took much longer — a minute or two — to get a fire engine en route.

An incident on my mind, as we drove through Davis, had happened the day before in Woodland. I was on Gibson Road east of County Fair Mall. A fire vehicle approached from behind, its siren blaring and its lights flashing.

Half or more of the cars pulled over and got out of the way, as the law requires. I stopped my bicycle. But the rest obliviously ignored the emergency siren and lights. And as a result, the WFD was slowed getting on scene.

I thought that story would amuse the Davis firefighters until I experienced in Davis what they see every day: Many drivers here don’t make way for emergency vehicles.

One firefighter told me some people learn to drive in different countries, where the rules are not the same. Another said it’s getting worse as more are distracted by their phones and text messages.

I wanted to pull out my imaginary ray gun and shoot the dopes who failed to yield as we drove to East Eighth Street.

We arrived three minutes after leaving the station. An elderly man, who was being cared for by his granddaughter, had had a seizure in their car in the parking lot. While Weist gathered information about his medical history and what had happened, the other two attended to the patient.

Firefighters are trained as emergency medical technicians. Until the ambulance arrived — four minutes later — the ill man was in the care of Crow and Cahill. Crow told me in the station later that the patient was postictal, a common consequence of a seizure. (An hour later, they treated another seizure patient with similar symptoms.)

As I reported in this column three years ago, the Davis Fire Department normally arrives on scene at a medical call before the AMR ambulance. And whenever the discrepancy is five minutes or more, fire is always first.

My experience last week was in line with my 2010 examination of dispatch records. Engine 31 was sent on three medical calls during my Aug. 27 ride-along. The ambulance arrived four, 10 and six minutes after Engine 31. In a life-or-death situation, an extra few minutes could be critical.

The reason fire personnel are faster to medical calls is simple math: We usually have three fire companies spread across Davis from east to west, yet often there is only one ambulance in our entire city.

We had been back at the downtown station for a few minutes when the next call came in for a medical emergency at the Arco gas station on Mace Boulevard. The South Davis fire engine was unavailable, and the closest available ambulance was in West Sacramento.

Thanks to Crow’s fast driving, we arrived in under five minutes, again having to fight our way past cars that failed to pull over.

Fortunately, the patient did not appear to be extraordinarily sick. Weist and his team followed their normal procedures treating him, and 10 minutes later the ambulance arrived.

One firefighter told me that the AMR service has improved in the past few months. He thinks it is because AMR’s contract is up for renewal, and the company has ordered its employees to do a better job. I have no way of verifying if their performance has changed, but the business logic makes sense.

Because Engine 31 was responding to calls one after another for most of my first two hours with them — in between medical emergencies we were dispatched to a reported downed power line — their scheduled training session had to be cancelled.

And then, as commonly happens, no more calls came in for Engine 31 the last two hours of my ride-along. But during that span, a Davis strike team packed up and left for the Rim Fire in Tuolumne County, and a West Davis engine was sent to a seven-alarm fire in Fairfield.

As readers of this column know, I have been critical of the city’s contract with the Fire Department’s union. I remain critical. They are overcompensated.

Some firefighters mistakenly believe I have a vendetta against their department or against them personally. Neither is true. I admire the work they do. It’s vital. But that doesn’t mean our city’s policies should go unchallenged as we lurch toward insolvency.

Davis continues to have a huge fiscal hole, and a big part of that was dug by not properly managing labor costs, especially with the Fire Department.

Yet having spent a full afternoon riding with the DFD, I have a new perspective, and I have advice for my readers, including members of the Davis City Council: Sign up for a ride-along.

Our firefighters are professionals. They care about their work. And sitting high up in a big, red fire engine racing to an emergency gives you a point of view you’ve likely never had before.

— Rich Rifkin is a Davis resident; his column is published every other week. Reach him at Lxartist@yahoo.com

Comments

comments

.

News

Tech Trekkers boldly go into STEM fields

By Amy Jiang | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Decoding breast milk secrets reveals clues to lasting health

By Pat Bailey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

California climate change policies to hit our pocketbooks

By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A1

 
Davis braces for six days of scorching heat

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Appeals court upholds high-speed rail route

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 1 Comment

 
Carwash raises funds for funeral expenses

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

 
Unitarians will host summer camp

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Artists, photographers invited to support Yolo Basin Foundation

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Sudwerk’s sales grow, floating on a sea of dry hop lager

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Wetlands visitors will see migrating shorebirds

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6 | Gallery

‘Bak2Sac’ free train ride program launched

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
Explorit: Wonderful wetlands right at home

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Recycle old paint cans for free

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

 
Where your gas money goes

By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A12

Americans, internationals make connections

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16

 
Can you give them a home?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16 | Gallery

STEAC needs donations of personal care items

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A16, 1 Comment

 
.

Forum

Trio disagrees on best option

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

Predicting climate changes

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

 
Clinton’s book is worth a read

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10, 3 Comments

Thanks for emergency help

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
Commenting system to change

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10, 31 Comments

 
Support these local restaurants

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Let’s get the bench repaired

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
.

Sports

Petrovic, Putnam share Canadian Open lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Moss powers A’s past Astros

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Enriquez brilliant, but Post 77 season ends with Area 1 loss

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Hudson solid, Hamels better in Giants’ loss

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
The un-Armstrong? Tour ‘boss’ Nibali wins Stage 18

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

.

Features

.

Arts

‘A Most Wanted Man’: Superb espionage drama

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
Clyde Elmore: Art in the Wild

By Evan Arnold-Gordon | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Musicians perform at Sunday service

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A17 | Gallery

 
.

Business

Accord’s latest model is most fuel efficient

By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
 
.

Obituaries

James Thomas Feather

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Mary Lita Bowen

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

Richard ‘Dick’ Robenalt

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
.

Comics

Comics: Friday, July 25, 2014

By Creator | From Page: A13

 
.

Real Estate Review

Featured Listing

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER1

Professional Services Directory

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER2

Remax

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER3

Sherman Home

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

Tracy Harris

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

Vaughan Brookshaw

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

Lyon Real Estate

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

Julie Leonard

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER5

Ciana Wallace

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

Melrina A Maggiora

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

Joe Kaplan

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

Jo Vallejo

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

Karen Waggoner

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

Jamie Madison

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

Malek Baroody

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER10

Carol Coder

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

Diane Lardelli

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

Jason Sull

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

Coldwell Banker

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

Coldwell Banker

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER13

Julie Partain

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

Lisa Haass

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

Leslie Blevins

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

Yolo FCU

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

David Campos

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Heather Barnes

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Willowbank Park

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Kim Eichorn

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

Dana Hawkins & Caitlin McCalla

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

Dana Hawkins & Caitlin McCalla

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

Susan von Geldern

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

Open House Map

By jboydston | From Page: RER19

Chris Snow

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

Travis Credit Union

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER20

Lynne Wegner

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

Kim Merrel Lamb

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

Martha Bernauer

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

Patricia Echevarria

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

Open House Map

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: RER23

F1rst Street Real Estate

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER24