First, because this needs to be said, I am not here writing all this stuff, and spending all this time putting this stuff together with the illusion that anyone will actually believe anything that I have to say without checking it out for themselves. Everyone has their own opinion, and you are certainly welcome to believe whatever you want regarding my intentions. It’s posted here to push/inspire my neighbors and fellow citizens into starting to arm themselves with information and ask and demand answers of their elected leaders. If only one other person does that, I will have accomplished my goals. If not, I’ve had a great learning experience into how our government works. Trustees, if you don’t know the answers to the questions that you are getting asked, it’s probably an indication that you should know those answers. You are welcome to call me at anytime – you have my phone number and I’m happy to talk to you about my concerns with our Village and to have you start representing my interests as a resident.
Additionally, I said before, I’m not objective, I have my convictions and passions – and that’s what will be evident. Please, do your own homework! Pull the budget documents and do Freedom of Information Act Requests and get information. Run the numbers yourself – and post your results here, I’d like to know what other people are getting in their research! It’s time for a lively debate among informed residents.
With that out of the way, we present the FOIA Request Data – and what we think it means to our fellow residents, neighbors and Trustees:
I would have preferred being able to have a discussion about past police response times, but unfortunately the Village believes that past response times records are Exempt under the Freedom of Information Act because those records may reveal plans to prevent attacks on the community. Not sure exactly how the village came to that conclusion – as they gave me the Actual police roster duty schedules for all shifts, which include the shift change times (even though I had only requested the total number of officers in each shift and how many assigned to the beats in order establish a baseline from the past years to show the significant decrease in police department manning ) and apparently that didn’t reveal any information about how they plan to prevent attacks on the community. So, until the Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor has a chance to review the denial and issue an opinion, the police FOIA will be left out of this discussion. Regardless, because I’m not comfortable with posting the actual schedule of the officers including their start times and assignments as I do actually find that to be dangerous to the community, that part of the FOIA will not be uploaded to the Public Documents page. Therefore, all I will have in terms of actual data provided by the Village is for the Fire Department. So without further ado …
I’m posting a Chart of Calls below. These come from approximately 400 pages of calls from a period of 2010-Present. I must admit, that I honestly believed that our response times had increased. I’m on these vehicles – I see how long it takes us to get there, so I must be right .. right? I wished .. but no, I wasn’t right – what the actual data reveals is that our overall average response time has increased by about 20 seconds – which isn’t too bad. For every 6, 7 or 8 minute call – there was an equally fast response to even it out – and i hadn’t considered that. So, if we look at a straight average response time – yeah, it’s not as bad as the “doomsday” prophecies that we’ve all been saying, right? Again, I’m wrong! – and this is the part that shocked me the most – we never were that great to begin with. And, we’ve gotten worse with the new Staff Model. Not only that, but East Dundee and West Dundee’s response to our town has increased as well.
Firefighters and Village Management, in a rare collaboration of solidarity, have always said that 5 Minute response times was the golden number that we shouldn’t be above. Without too much history, the Office of the State Fire Marshall, the Federal Government and ISO (Insurance Standards Organization) have set that guideline as a measurement of how well a department can respond to structure fires and provide adequate fire suppression. We never really considered that this 5 minute response time doesn’t make much sense when it comes to EMS. Let’s analyze how a call for emergency service occurs for a second so you all can see where I’m going with this:
You Call 9-1-1. A Dispatcher answers and proceeds to get your address, problem and what you need. While they strive to get a call dispatched as quickly as possible, it’s not uncommon for that call to last 1 minute trying to gather the information they need to send the ambulance. Then they send the ambulance. It is at that moment that firefighters and paramedics start counting our “response time.” But remember, your problem started a minute before that – so if the ambulance makes it to your house in 5 minutes, it’s really been 6 minutes.
But, even that call to dispatch time can vary wildly, depending on the training and level of experience of the dispatcher and how calm the caller is. A screaming distraught caller can overwhelm even the most experienced of dispatchers. So let’s use a more common EMS standard that makes sense. The American Heart Association says that brain death begins to occur at 4 minutes without oxygen – and after 6 minutes without oxygen, the brain isn’t viable to be saved. So, 4-6 minutes is the target time to get oxygen to the brain to even have a chance to reverse brain death. This is taught in every single CPR class. Couple that with the Fire Department’s Stated Goal (In the posted Budget Documents) to have a response time less than 4 minutes greater than 90% of the time. We can see that any calls that takes an ambulance greater than 4 minutes to respond to should be treated as a potentially dangerous occurrence. Heart Attacks, Choking, Respiratory Illnesses, Respiratory Arrest, COPD, Emphysema, Anaphylaxis, Asthma – all conditions that can cause a person to stop breathing and are time sensitive – once 4 minutes hits, the brain starts dying. After 6 mins and nothing can be done to bring someone back. So, after 4 minutes -we are in the danger zone.
Now, here’s where the data below becomes really interesting. For Fire Calls, our response times slightly improved in the greater than 5 minute category – yay! The Fire department can put a fire engine with 2 firefighters and an operator (that can’t actually do any interior fighting until the next vehicle arrives with more people) to the scene slightly faster than we did before the staff model change. Of course, this is only true on the East Side, but that’s because the Engine is dispatched first to anything in their area, and the ambulance sits in the station unmanned a majority of the time. The department’s Staffing Model puts 2 ambulances unavailable for the first call – AND assigns the engine to the call – so the next call is handled by East Dundee – thanks neighbors!
However – Ambulance (EMS) response times took a major hit for this slight increase. I will preface this by saying that anything over 10% of the call volume for any of the tracked areas – greater than 4 min, greater than 5 min, greater than 6 min is not good. I compare it to Russian Roulette … it might only be a 1/10 chance – but if you number 1 … it’s just as not good as if someone else is number 1. When you see a number like 50% in a column, it means that 1 out of every 2 calls is going to be in that danger zone. And with 4 people in each station, the fire department still wasn’t staffed properly to provide adequate service according to the findings on the FOIA data.
In Area 1 (central station) the response times greater than 4 minutes decreased, greater than 5 minutes decreased and greater than 6 minutes decreased. And they decreased to below 10% – we are making our stated goals at this station. But this is the station that has 5 personnel now – which means 2 vehicles manned 24 hours a day independently (the ambulance crew doesn’t abandon the ambulance for fire-related calls.) So the assignment of 5 firefighter/paramedics to a station significantly reduces the call response numbers – meaning that we can in fact meet the goal of less than 4 minutes more than 90% of the time. MORE staff = MORE capability!
It’s the outlying stations that we start to see a trend that isn’t that great. We started with numbers that weren’t that great when there were 4 people in the station, and those have gone up as a result of the new Staff Model. On the East Side of the Village – we were about 1 in every 3 calls in the danger zone (4-6+ minutes). After this change, we are now at 57% of all calls take longer than 4 minutes – that’s 1 in every 1.6 calls. So almost every call is in the danger zone – LESS staff = LESS capability = MORE danger. Nice Job Trustees!
Station 3 is an interesting lesson in Station spacing and staffing, and this one was the most interesting. The danger zone for EMS, starting at 4 minutes means that the past few years have an average response time above 4 minutes at 51% of all calls. 1 in 2 on the west side (Where the majority of our trustees live) So, basically, that station is responsible for handling such a large area that driving distance often dictates how long it takes. Add in the number of businesses that are out there and the alarms that we run – the “old” way with 4 in the station would put the ambulance out of service more regularly. By staffing with 5, that number would dramatically decrease due to not abandoning the ambulance for fire calls. However, our village decided to reduce that number – and hey, it stayed the same – 50% – still sucks no matter which way it’s viewed, and a far cry from the department’s stated goal of 90%.
The fact is, 4 just isn’t enough, and 3 makes a bad situation worse. 5 in each station is actually where we should be based upon the actual numbers provided by the village, which is what firefighters and chiefs have been saying for years. In fact, the Deputy Fire Chief, who, between the Village Manager, the Director of Public Safety and himself is the only one that has a degree in fire science and over 20 years of experience, said in an email obtained through the FOIA request when discussing the SAFER grant that the village requested to fund firefighter positions – that “getting 4 more firefighters would bring us closer to the proper staffing levels.” This stuff isn’t made up folks – it’s just a reality, public safety is a people intensive service. Less = Less no matter which way you slice it. There aren’t technology enhancements that reduce the need for staffing. You can’t run an ambulance with only 1 person because you have a better defibrillator, and you can’t run a Fire Engine with 1 less firefighter because your pump does some calculations for the engineer. In West Dundee, there is 1 on duty firefighter for every 1,460 residents. In East Dundee, there is 1 on duty firefighter for every 1400 residents in their Fire Protection District. Elgin, at it’s maximum on duty has 1 for every 2575 residents, and when at minimum has 1 for every 3179 residents. Carpentersville by comparison has 1 on duty firefighter for every 3,426 residents. While I’m certainly not advocating for 25 firefighters on duty daily to be in line with the Dundees – but 15/12 isn’t too much of a stretch from where we are now and would be right in line with Elgin’s staffing models. Considering the amount of money that we spend on administrative areas, reducing that and bringing police, fire and public works up to speed would be a significant benefit for our village.
Now, nobody is under the grand allusion that the Village should staff 15 positions per day with all full time personnel – it just isn’t feasible and I have no intention or desire to advocate that. The village would have to hire about 16 more full time firefighters to do this- which isn’t viable under any model or budgetary stretch of the imagination. However, utilizing the existing Full Time Personnel, combined with accepting the SAFER Grant if it’s offered AND deploying more part time firefighter/paramedics, the village could establish a Maximum of 15 positions and a minimum of 12 positions, thus ELIMINATING over time for scheduled time off and sick days and providing better service throughout the community (Wow – imagine that, staffing properly can reduce overtime? Who would have guessed?)
So, let’s recap, less firefighters = increased danger for the residents. More firefighters = decreased danger for the residents, reduced overtime AND more stable and predictable staff costs.
Here’s that chart for those that would like to see it, feel free to post with questions, it can be confusing:
|10/19/13 6am – Present||1/1/13 – 10/19/13 6am|
|Area 1||Category||EMS||Fire||Combo||EMS||Fire||Combo||5 Staff Members – 2 Dedicated Companies|
|Total Call Count Average Response||3:14||3:29||3:22||3:22||4:03||3:43|
|Greater than 4 Min Response||6||75|
|% of Call Count||21%||28%|
|Greater than 5 Min Response||1||2||3||33||21||54|
|% of Call Count||4%||13%||7%||12%||22%||15%|
|Less than 5 Min Response||27||14||41||237||75||312|
|% of Call Count||96%||88%||93%||88%||78%||85%|
|Greater than 6 Min Response||0||1||1||12||8||20|
|% of Call Count||0%||6%||2%||4%||8%||5%|
|Call Count per Month||35||20||56||23||10||33|
|Greater than 4 Min per Month||8||8|
|% of Monthly Call Count||21.43%||34.84%|
|Greater than 5 Min per Month||1.27||2.53||3.80||3.45||2.20||5.64|
|% of Monthly Call Count||3.57%||12.50%||6.82%||15.33%||21.88%||17.35%|
|Greater than 6 Min per Month||0.00||1.27||1.27||1.25||0.84||2.09|
|% of Monthly Call Count||0.00%||6.25%||2.27%||5.57%||8.33%||6.43%|
|10/19/13 6am – Present||1/1/13 – 10/19/13 6am|
|Area 2||Category||EMS||Fire||Combo||EMS||Fire||Combo||3 Staff Members – 1 Jump Company|
|Total Call Count Average Response||4:20||4:32||4:26||3:58||4:32||4:15|
|Greater than 4 Min Response||61||389|
|% of Call Count||56%||27%|
|Greater than 5 Min Response||37||9||46||283||103||386|
|% of Call Count||34%||36%||34%||20%||37%||23%|
|Less than 5 Min Response||72||16||88||1154||175||1329|
|% of Call Count||66%||64%||66%||80%||63%||77%|
|Greater than 6 Min Response||14||6||20||131||57||188|
|% of Call Count||13%||24%||15%||9%||21%||11%|
|Call Count per Month||138||32||170||150||29||179|
|Greater than 4 Min per Month||77||41|
|% of Monthly Call Count||55.96%||27.07%|
|Greater than 5 Min per Month||46.89||11.41||58.30||29.58||10.77||40.35|
|% of Monthly Call Count||33.94%||36.00%||34.33%||19.69%||37.05%||22.51%|
|Greater than 6 Min per Month||17.74||7.60||25.35||13.69||5.96||19.65|
|% of Monthly Call Count||12.84%||24.00%||14.93%||9.12%||20.50%||10.96%|
|10/19/13 6am – Present||1/1/13 – 10/19/13 6am|
|Area 3||Category||EMS||Fire||Combo||EMS||Fire||Combo||3 Staff Members – 1 Jump Company|
|Total Call Count Average Response||4:48||5:40||5:14||4:21||5:28||4:55|
|Greater than 4 Min Response||6||164|
|% of Call Count||46%||53%|
|Greater than 5 Min Response||5||5||10||96||73||169|
|% of Call Count||38%||45%||42%||31%||55%||38%|
|Less than 5 Min Response||8||6||14||215||59||274|
|% of Call Count||62%||55%||58%||69%||45%||62%|
|Greater than 6 Min Response||4||4||8||48||49||97|
|% of Call Count||31%||36%||33%||15%||37%||22%|
|Call Count per Month||16||14||30||33||14||46|
|Greater than 4 Min per Month||8||17|
|% of Monthly Call Count||50.00%||51.52%|
|Greater than 5 Min per Month||6.34||6.34||12.67||10.03||7.63||17.66|
|% of Monthly Call Count||38.46%||45.45%||41.67%||30.87%||55.30%||38.15%|
|Greater than 6 Min per Month||5.07||5.07||10.14||5.02||5.12||10.14|
|% of Monthly Call Count||30.77%||36.36%||33.33%||15.43%||37.12%||21.90%|
|10/19/13 6am – Present||1/1/13 – 10/19/13 6am|
|Greater than 4 Min Response||73||628|
|% of Call Count||48.67%||31.12%|
|Greater than 5 Min Response||43||16||59||412||197||609|
|% of Call Count||29%||31%||29%||20%||39%||24%|
|Less than 5 Min Response||107||36||143||1606||309||1915|
|% of Call Count||71%||69%||71%||80%||61%||76%|
|Greater than 6 Min Response||18||11||29||191||114||305|
|% of Call Count||12%||21%||14%||9%||23%||12%|
|Call Count per Month||190||66||256||211||53||264|
|Greater than 4 Min per Month||93||66|
|% of Monthly Call Count||48.67%||31.12%|
|Greater than 5 Min per Month||54.50||20.28||74.77||43.06||20.59||63.66|
|% of Monthly Call Count||28.67%||30.77%||29.21%||20.42%||38.93%||24.13%|
|Greater than 6 Min per Month||22.81||13.94||36.75||19.96||11.92||31.88|
|% of Monthly Call Count||12.00%||21.15%||14.36%||9.46%||22.53%||12.08%|
If you’ve been following the posts that we’ve been making, you’ll see that combined with accurate revenue projections, reasonable expenditure budgeting, proper allocation of funds to departments based upon the stated mission of the village, we could all live in a safe and sound community and receive what we actually pay for. If the village isn’t going to re-allocate funds to increase the public safety departments and be inline with the Village Mission Statement, then still reduce the administration and community development costs and reduce my taxes and water bill so that I can afford a residential sprinkler system, a shotgun and a truck to handle bad roads.