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Mitchell fire, EMS 'make every single second count' in emergencies

In situations where minutes can mean the difference between life and death, Mitchell-area residents can rest assured that first responders make each second count.

The Mitchell Fire Division. (Republic file photo)
The Mitchell Fire Division. (Republic file photo)

In situations where minutes can mean the difference between life and death, Mitchell-area residents can rest assured that first responders make each second count.

Although there is always room for improvement, Mitchell Assistant Fire Chief Paul Morris said he is happy with Mitchell fire and emergency medical services response times, with crews arriving on scene in fewer than seven minutes, on average.

"A big part of it is training, especially with the new people we bring on board," Morris said. "What we hope to do is relieve pain and suffering within the shortest amount of time."

For the first-priority ambulance, crews are on scene 5.74 minutes after the initial dispatch call, Morris said, and the second-priority ambulance - that is used if the first ambulance is already out - makes it to its destination 6.32 minutes after the first call. Considering the ambulance service covers 900 square miles, the averages are "pretty respectable," Morris said.

Meanwhile, the fire department averages 5.86 minutes from dispatch to arrival at an emergency, according to Morris. Typically, crews have about one minute to get to their gear and another minute to get the gear on, leaving approximately 3.86 minutes for transport. Typically, firefighters are trained as EMS personnel, too, Morris said, with seven on duty at once.

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Fire crews, especially, are always working on pre-positioning their protective gear in the most efficient way so it's easily accessible when alarms sound and are aware of road closures and construction in Mitchell, Morris said.

And, should a second fire break out while crews work to clean the first or second fire rigs, there is a third available that is fully equipped, Morris added, noting that fires double in size every minute, making quick response times critical to saving structures and lives.

"It all boils down to time. If you're someone who suffers from asthma, the difference between five minutes or six minutes can seem like years," Morris said. "Speed of response is important for any emergency, so we're always doing our best to make every single second count."

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