In Case of Emergency – Citizens Need to Focus on More Than Just Response Times

If you are a citizen of a highly populated area relying on public safety officials you need to focus on other factors besides response times.  How quickly fire or police personnel can respond to your call for help is not the best predictor of whether you will get help when you need it.  Your community also needs to focus on how busy or how many calls for service your emergency personnel are responding to as well.  That service may not be available right when you need it.  When you call 911 so are many others.  The closest fire station may be right down the street but they may also be on another call.  Another fire department may respond to your call from farther away.

The citizens of a jurisdiction rarely focus on response time and call volume when they consider how to fund their government.  Rather than pressure your government leaders to give temporary fixes to your concerns, get a thorough briefing on the health of your emergency services.  Compare the size of your fire and police department to other jurisdictions in the surrounding area.  Compare how many calls for service your police and fire personnel respond to in other jurisdictions.

Another important factor is crew size.  For example some fire departments have four fire fighters on each fire truck, some have three and some have two or one.  It may sound crazy that one fire fighter could arrive on a fire truck to answer your call for service but that is actually what happens in many jurisdictions.  Some unionized fire departments will not respond on a call for service unless the fire truck has the contractually agreed to amount of staff.

Citizens have a lot to think about when funding the size of their government.  We hear a lot about bloated government.  Well government provides fire and police protection.  How big or small do you want you public safety departments to be?


About managingemergencies

I am a professional consultant with 30 years of experience in managing emergencies. My background and skills gave me the foundation to start Systems Emergency Preparedness Consultants. If you need preparedness training or would like to have a preparedness discussion for your employees contact me via email at I held various positions in the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department until I retired in 2007. As a emergency planner and trainer in the Prince George's County Office of Homeland Security I planned exercises and training for government agencies and citizens groups. I was appointed Fire Chief of the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department in 2009. I started Systems Emergency Preparedness Consultants in June of that year. I had the opportunity to become the Assistant Fire Chief - Operations of the District of Columbia Fire/EMS Department and served for a year as the Interim Fire Chief. I am a trained mediator, mediator team leader and trainer. I also served as the Fire/EMS Department Equal Employment Opportunity Officer.
This entry was posted in Commentary, Emergencies and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to In Case of Emergency – Citizens Need to Focus on More Than Just Response Times

  1. rebecca2000 says:

    Important piece you wrote here.

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