'So far, so good'
Officials happy with paid-on-premises service
June 30, 2010 | 08:33 AM
Walworth — Patients are sometimes surprised how quickly Nick Maise arrives at an emergency call.
Maise said a common response has been, "Wow, you guys are really quick."
Once an emergency call is placed in the village and town of Walworth, Maise said he and another responder are usually out the door and en route within a minute.
It has been just about six months since the village and town began offering a paid-on-premises fire and rescue service and it might be difficult to find an official who isn't happy with the results.
"So far, so good," Emergency Service Director and Village Police Chief Chris Severt said.
Town Supervisor Larry Austin also said he is pleased.
"We have really fast response times," Austin said. "From our view it's going really well."
Maise has been hired to work in the village from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Typically he responds to calls with Police Clerk Rhonda Schwartz.
After 4 p.m., the department relies on volunteer members who respond to calls.
The original reason the two municipalities looked at providing the service was because of concerns about response times during the day.
With most of the villages volunteers working during the daytime hours, it was difficult to guarantee a response.
That's why the village contracted with Metro Paramedic Services to staff its station during the day.
When the community relies on volunteers, from 4 p.m. until 8 a.m., Severt said responses times are good.
"We haven't lost anything prior to the program going into effect," Severt said. "The response time is still within a few minutes of the daytime response."
He said this is partially because the village is in a small geographical area and volunteers don't have to travel far to the station.
Severt said there is still room for the paid-on-premises service to grow. In the future, he hopes to have Maise provide more public education about fire safety.
Severt said Maise will be involved in Safety Town this summer and hopefully will provide educational outreach to the schools in the fall.
Recently, Maise completed fire inspections in the town of Walworth and is beginning inspections for the village.
"It's nice to learn all the buildings in the area, which is good for pre-emergency planning," Maise said.
Austin and Severt said Maise has worked out well. Maise also is happy with the position.
"I love it. It's beautiful," he said. "I like the small community atmosphere and getting to know the people in the community."
On average, the village is receiving more than 20 rescue calls a month. About 30 percent of those calls come in while Maise is on duty at the fire station.
With fire calls, the village is seeing an average of about 10 calls a month. Maise responded to about 20 percent. Some of those calls are through Mutual Aid Box Alarm System, which Maise doesn't respond to.
Village officials didn't want to have its full-time employee responding to calls outside of the village. However, volunteers from the department may still be called out.
When Maise isn't responding to emergency calls or completing fire inspections, he is performing clerical work and maintaining equipment.
In the future, the village may need to expand its fire and rescue service to cover more hours, but for now, Severt said the current set up works well.
"As the need for services increases, we will be able to increase the service proportionally," Severt said.