Responding to fires, medical calls and car accidents takes more than a couple of firefighters and an EMS crew. In fact, most local fire departments require each others help.
“You never know what type of incident were going to have.” North Park Deputy Fire Chief Brian Kunce explains. Because there’s constant uncertainty as a first responder, arriving on calls requires some help.
“The mutual aid is an automatic aid, until we see what’s going on, helps so much more, whether its one or two or three companies or three or four people per company it’s huge.”
Local fire departments, like North Park, Loves Park, and Cherry Valley, have an agreement for automatic aid, which means, when one department is dispatched, they all are.
“Without those agreements we would be certainly suffering not having manpower on scene as quickly as we need it.” said Lt. Kristopher Gay of the Cherry Valley Fire Department.
Deputy Chief Kunce adds “If you don’t have auto aid you wait till you’re on scene and you see what you have for an incident then you call for mutual aid and there’s a time delay and you don’t know what you’re going to pull up to.”
That’s because of a lack of man power per station. At the Cherry Valley Fire Protection District there’s only five firefighters during the day. At North Park there’s just three. Volunteers are paged overnight.
“That’s not a lot of people for an extrication accident or any general alarm we need more staff and firefighters quicker.” Kunce adds.
The benefits from automatic aid are evident. It cuts the time delay from the firehouse to the scene. Last week a Loves Park home caught fire, but because of it’s proximity, North Park Fire showed up first and were able to get straight to work and salvage the family’s home.
“Getting there quick is what saved it sometimes we’re not that lucky.” said Kunce. Gay added “Most of the time, the first five minutes are crucial to the incident, that’ll dictate how the incident will turn out.”