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Fire chief clarifies emergency call volume

August 12, 2014 | 12:02 PM
FONTANA — Fontana Fire Chief Wolfgang Nitsch said there’s a simple explanation behind the conflicting numbers in a fire and rescue report.

“There was more information than revealed at the meeting,” Nitsch said in a phone interview Aug. 6.

Trustee Rick Pappas questioned the village’s need to extend a contract with Paratech Ambulance services through November. During the Aug. 4 village board meeting, Pappas quoted a report from Nitsch.

The report shows that from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., when Paratech responders cover the village, only 24 calls were made from Jan. 1 to July 30, 2014.

Nitsch said this report isn’t complete.

“We had a new software system that went live on May 1,” he said. “We’re still filling in that information about calls from prior to May 1.”

Nitsch said from Jan. 1 through the morning of Aug. 6, the fire and rescue department has responded to 136 calls. Of those calls, 50 calls were within the 12-hour period that Paratech staffs the rescue squad.

The village paid about $1,960.75 per call for Paratech.

So far this year, through the end of July, the village has paid Paratech $98,037.34.

Nitsch also said the Paratech crew responded with the fire department for some fire-only calls. He didn’t provide exact numbers for those calls.

Pappas said he isn’t sure why Nitsch wasn’t able to give him those numbers when he requested them earlier this month for the village board meeting.

“If you look at those call numbers, you’ll see that we’re paying a lot for each call,” Pappas said.

Already this year, the department has averaged about 19.4 calls per month and may see about 233 calls this year.

The Regional News also has call data from Aug. 1 to Dec. 31, 2013. The contract with Paratech began that August.

In those five months, 94 calls were made, about 19 calls per month.

Again, 50 of those calls came in while Paratech was on duty in the village.

Pappas said in an Aug. 7 interview that he wants the village board to review other options for emergency services.

“When we (approved this contract) a year ago, they said it was a temporary solution,” he said. “We rushed into it for this year. Now that we’ve gone this way, it’s hard to go back. We’re not getting any more donations for the rescue squad. We have to pickup those expenses.”

Pappas said he’d like to see conversations with area municipalities renewed.

“Our ambulance can’t respond to calls outside the village of Fontana,” Pappas said. “Is that really going to help us with other communities or is it going to divide us? If volunteerism is down, then it’s right for us to do joint services. Wouldn’t that just make sense to go in with other communities and have 24 hour service?”

He also suggested the village consider having full-time, in-house emergency medical responders, depending on how the cost compared to the Paratech contract.

Pappas said the village is also facing additional costs with another Paratech renewal. Larry Kanuth, vice president of operations for Paratech, said at the Aug. 4 board meeting that costs were increasing because of changes in health care laws and workers’ compensation.

“It didn’t seem like Paratech was interested in renewing at the same rate,” Pappas said.

“If we didn’t have other things to pay for, like a new ladder truck coming up or emergency bridge repairs, it would be OK. There’s always something that pops up, though.”


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