NORFOLK, NE — The Norfolk Fire and Rescue division received more rescue calls than any year in recent history in 2016.
The staff is analyzing their annual report and presented some of their key finding to the City Council last month. The report looks at activity from October 2015 thru October 2016. Most notably, the department fielded 59 more rescue calls than the year before, and 179 more calls than the 2011/2012 year, that’s an increase of more than nine percent.
“That scale of medical calls continues to climb with no change in sight,” Cordes said. “That does match the state and national trends that we’re seeing. So, what we can do is plan for that, prepare for that, and try to staff ourselves and equip ourselves in a manner that we can give those services to the community in the manner that they deserve.”
The increase in emergency medical service calls has put a strain on Fire Chief Scott Cordes and his staff.
“There are many, many times throughout the course of the year where most stations are empty,” Cordes said. “We simply don’t have anyone left to respond. And every time we do that the citizens of Norfolk are vulnerable because there’s not someone available to respond.”
Cordes says when they field more than three calls at once they use off-duty and reserve personnel, who have to take away from their personal lives to respond. He says he has talked with the City Administrator and elected officials over the last couple years to make them aware of the situation.
“I’m very confident that when the time is right they’ll authorize the need for additional staffing if that’s the course of action we need to take. We’ll make that decision together when the time’s right,” Cordes said.
Cordes cites aging baby boomers, an elderly population that prefers to stay at home, and more access to health insurance as potential reasons for the growing number of emergency medical calls.
In contrast, fire calls are at their lowest point ever. Cordes attributes the low total of fire calls to more fire prevention awareness efforts and better building materials. Click here to view the annual report: http://www.ci.norfolk.ne.us/fire/AnnualReports/2015%202016%20annual.pdf