NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — With the summer months upon us, the 99th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Protection Flight is, as expected, responding to an increased number of 911 calls from the base community.
The heightened risk of real emergencies due to heat-related injuries and other accidents will keep first responders in a heightened state of readiness throughout the summer, placing a responsibility on the community to use sound judgment when dialing those three numbers.
“We have multiple crews going out to multiple emergencies all day long,” said Master Sgt. Francisco Escobar, 99th CES fire protection flight NCO in charge of emergency dispatch. “It can be taxing on the crews, especially when the problem could have been solved in a different way.”
According to Escobar, dispatch is responsible for sending required help to anyone who calls. They respond to a range of dangerous situations including fires, alarm activations, structural risks, medical emergencies and in-flight emergencies. With so much going on and limited manning, it’s important that community members consider other options before calling about something minor.
“Not all calls we get are true emergencies.” Escobar said.
Keys locked in cars, headaches, minor cuts and bruises and even barking neighborhood dogs were just a few examples of calls taken by dispatch, all of which could have been solved in simpler more efficient ways. In many cases, asking a wingman or family member for a ride to the emergency room or another medical treatment facility can prevent the unnecessary utilization of a full emergency response crew.
“It’s easy on a military installation to become accustomed to what seems to be a free service,” said Ramon Fitzgerald, assistant fire chief for hazardous materials safety. “You don’t see the fuel costs; you don’t see the cost to maintain all the specialized equipment.”
According to Fitzgerald, government furloughs, scheduled to begin July 8, may stand to deplete the Nellis emergency response crews from the current minimum manning level of 24 to 18. “This will effectively drop one crew out of rotation, limiting our ability to respond to multiple emergencies happening at one particular time.”
While dispatch would welcome a decrease in what could be seen as unnecessary calls, Escobar stresses that Nellis emergency services will continue to respond and provide help to anyone who calls.
“If you call, we’ll send crews; we will roll trucks,” Escobar said.
Nellis community members needing to report an emergency are reminded by dispatch to be able to answer questions regarding their exact location, the nature of the emergency and the telephone number they’re calling from, so that first responders have the information needed to provide rapid response and treatment.
For more information regarding Nellis emergency response call the 99th CES fire protection flight dispatch at (702) 682-9630.