From going live with paramedic service last October to key promotions inside the department and purchases of a new ambulance and rescue-pumper, 2019 was a big year for the DeForest Windsor Fire and EMS service.
In a presentation at the May 21 Windsor Village Board meeting, Chief Steve LaFeber said that the health and wellness of staff is always the No. 1 priority. The COVID-19 pandemic has only reinforced its importance.
“Make sure we’re taking care of our own is what we’re doing right now,” said LaFeber.
The first couple of weeks of the coronavirus lockdowns were difficult on the department, said LaFeber. The main thing was gathering all the necessary supplies, like masks, gowns and sanitizer.
“We got it done,” said LaFeber, who also mentioned that the station is sanitized twice a day and that everyone is self-monitoring. Social distancing is also practiced.
The department did have a couple of coronavirus exposures, reported LaFeber. One was a confirmed case.
COVID-19 has also affected call volume, according to LaFeber. Ambulance calls are the same or higher, while fire calls are significantly lower, he said.
LaFeber said the shop was to start opening up June 1. It’ll allow for training and members to move about more.
“We can’t wait to train,” said LaFeber.
The results of an audit are also on their way. LaFeber said that in June he hopes to have a better idea of where the department is financially.
“My gut says we did very well,” said LaFeber.
As for the significant events and numbers of 2019, LaFeber noted the promotions of Erik Finkleson to head fire inspector and Jon Yaskal to assistant chief of EMS operations.
LaFeber also reviewed the number of calls for 2019. There were a total of 1,555 calls for service, with 1,252 for EMS services. Only 303 were fire calls. EMS call volume is on the rise, LaFeber reported. His presentation noted that falls are 54.97 percent of EMS calls.
According to LaFeber, the department’s volume of fire calls is down because it does not respond to Sun Prairie as often. He explained that the DeForest Windsor department does not go out to Sun Prairie on the first alarm anymore. Instead, Sun Prairie decides whether LaFeber’s department is needed.
LaFeber also said there were no major fire incidents in the DeForest Windsor district in 2019.
Included in the report was a notation that most of the calls fall into the timeframe of 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Medic coverage is also almost complete, as the station is staffed 24 hours Monday through Saturday and three-quarters of the time on Sunday. LaFeber reported that the department has nine months to get that day covered.
Call volume stayed steady, according to LaFeber. DeForest had the largest growth, but he said Windsor is catching up.
Breaking down EMS calls, 29.67 percent of them had an on-scene time greater than 15 minutes. Now that the EMS has gone paramedic, they can spend more time working with victims on scene.
For the department as a whole, Fridays are the busiest days and Thursdays are the slowest. The age group with the biggest number of calls was 70-79. Most of the ambulance transports are to UW Health at The American Center or UW-Health East. LaFeber said east side transports result in significant time savings.
With regard to training hours, the department put in 9,012 hours of training in 2019. Most of them were paid for by the members themselves. LaFeber said there were very few requests for reimbursement.
In addition to the training hours, 622 hours in truck checks were completed, along with countless hours of doing repairs to equipment and studying for classes, according to LaFeber.
Looking ahead in 2020, perhaps the biggest issue involves planning for a second station.
LaFeber also stressed the importance of volunteer firefighters and EMTs, who save the district around $1 million, he said.