Emergency responses surge; 911 credited

The Fire and Emergency Services Authority (F.E.S.A.) has credited its adoption of the world famous emergency number 911 for the rise in incidents reported in 2019.

The F.E.S.A. Annual Report for 2018–2019 states that the authority has recorded a 57 per cent increase in emergency response for the 2019 financial year and it attributed the spike in cases to the public’s use of the 911 emergency number which the Government introduced in January 2019.

The annual report stated that the F.E.S.A. responders attended to 2,360 incidents in that financial year compared to 1,502 in the previous year.

The authority’s ambulance service was also the busiest in the response division, accounting for 1,791 emergency medical responses in 2019 compared to 929 the previous year. 

“Prior to the establishment of the 911 emergency number, our ambulance service call outs averaged one a day,” the F.E.S.A. annual report noted. “For 2019 call outs for ambulances averaged five a day for the two stations in Upolu.” 

Fire suppression operations are the authority’s core function and were the second busiest unit in the authority, according to the annual report.

“For the year ending June 2019, the authority responded to a total number of 353 fire incidences which increased by 37 per cent compared to 258 in the previous financial year.” 

The biggest increase in fire response was in the categories of grass and structural fire with 86 per cent and 68 per cent increases respectively. 

The F.E.S.A. says the increase in the grass fire was a result of long sunny weather patterns during the first and fourth quarter of the year. 

In relation to other emergency responses, all responses dropped by 31 per cent from 315 in 2018 to 216. 

The annual report also noted the drop in the false alarms category with a decrease to 93 incidences compared to 167 in 2018.

“Operations had really worked hard during the year to improve this area by charging building owners once false alarms were activated which deterred them and ensured that they were actively monitoring their alarm systems for faults,” the report states. 

“Motor vehicle response also decreased by 15 per cent to 75 responses compared to 88 in the previous year. 

“There were marginal increases in rescue operations, alarm tests and hazardous material responses in 2019 compared to 2018.” 

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