Fire and EMS calls up 15 percent so far this year in Steamboat Springs area
Steamboat Springs — Emergency responders in Steamboat Springs have been significantly busier in the first months of 2016 compared to the same time last year.
They are also handling more simultaneous calls.
Fire Chief Mel Stewart said fire and ambulance calls are up 15 percent so far this year.
The number of calls emergency responders have had to deal with concurrently has also risen by 8 percent.
The totals for the first months of 2016 are keeping up an overall trend of increasing calls that began in 2010.
Last year, Fire Rescue responded to 2,179 calls, a 9 percent increase over the 1,987 calls the city received in 2014.
It was the biggest jump in several years.
Asked by the Steamboat Springs City Council what is driving up the calls this year, Stewart said it’s no single type of call that is responsible for the increase.
Instead, he thinks the uptick comes from the town being busier than last year.
“When sales tax is going up, our call volume is going up,” he said. “But our call volume is going up much faster than sales taxes are right now.”
He added many city departments are also seeing upticks in demand for service.
Ambulances were called to the base of the Steamboat Ski Area 60 times in both January and February.
The January number was a significant increase from January 2015, when 46 EMS calls originated from the ski area.
The February total was on par with the 57 calls that originated there last year.
Most of those calls are for injured skiers and snowboarders but sometimes include other medical emergencies.
EMS and fire officials closely monitor the number of instances they receive multiple calls at the same time.
As the overall call volume goes up, so, too, does this number, Stewart said.
Stewart said if consecutive calls continue to go up, the department could reach a point at which some people seeking help will be told they will have to wait longer for service.
“We’ll get to a point where we have to put people on hold,” he said.
City Council last month discussed the future needs of Fire Rescue and a strategic plan for the department.
According to the plan, Fire Rescue currently serves a total of 384 square miles and a varying population of up to 40,000 residents and visitors.
Stewart told council members his biggest concern is getting to the point where third calls out must be put on hold.
The funding of new fire department infrastructure and future staffing is likely to be a topic of discussion in the council chambers in the coming months.
View the strategic plan below.
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