LACK OF FUNDING HAS CRIPPLED EMERGENCY MEDICAL AND FIRE SERVICES IN EAST CONTRA COSTA
“You Can Help Improve Our Fire Services”
It is a fact: public safety is critical to the quality of life we all expect for our families. It is also a fact that the level of fire and medical services in East Contra Costa County is unacceptable. The time it takes to travel from a fire station to a public safety emergency in the district is more than twice as long as it should be – currently around 10 minutes. If you have ever required the assistance of the fire and medical folks you know this feels like a lifetime.
This heightened risk is the consequence of trying to provide more services to the community with fewer resources. The East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) has had to reduce the number of fire stations from eight to three since the great recession that began in 2008. Front line first responders have been reduced from 52 to 34 with only nine fire fighters on duty any given day. During the same time period, the population has grown to more than 100,000 and that means more 9-1-1 calls for services. This is the bad news.
Here is the good news: Many members of our community are hard at work to improve fire and medical services in the East Contra Costa County. A task force was formed last June 2015 to work on this effort, which resulted in an agreement among Oakley, Brentwood, Contra Costa County and the Fire District to temporarily reopen a fourth station. But this is a temporary fix that lacks a long-term funding solution. We are now focused on long-term solutions and need our community to participate in the discussion. Every member of the community can be heard by going to www.ourfireservices.org. Here you can sign up to learn more about the issues and provide input. This community discussion will help local officials in their decision making in the coming months.
In addition to the “Our Fire Services” discussion forum, a master plan is being developed for the Fire District. This plan will help us all better understand what it will take to not only serve today’s existing population, but also the population 25 to 30 years from today.
One thing is clear: the Fire District is working on borrowed time and by June 2017 further reductions will be needed if a solution is not found. This problem is severely impacting the communities of Brentwood, Oakley, Bethel Island, Byron, Discovery Bay, Knightsen, and Marsh Creek/Morgan Territory. This is “our” problem and I believe that by working together the solutions will also be “our” solutions. Please join us at www.ourfireservices.org. The matter is urgent and we need your input now.
City Manager, City of Brentwood
Member of the Fire and Medical Services Task Force
Your United Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County have started a camouflage shirt campaign to support local veteran organizations. Throughout the year you will see personnel from Contra Costa Fire, East Contra Costa Fire, Moraga-Orinda Fire, Rodeo-Hercules, Pinole, and El Cerrito Fire wearing their camouflage shirts. These shirts will be sold for $25 each and can be purchased by members of the public on our website or at our office in Martinez, located at 112 Blue Ridge Dr.
Our organization is a proud supporter of our veterans across the country as well as the veterans currently working for our various departments. Purchase yours today and support our local veterans.
Contra Costa County Fire Protection District & American Medical Response form the 'Alliance'
The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District is getting innovative with the way it does business and serves its community. It's recently teamed up with the Sheriff's office in providing Air Operations and more recently, CCCFPD partnered with AMR ambulance to provide pre-hospital care. This 'Alliance' assures the right resources are being dispatched at the right time and in a cost effective way.
Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Contact Information
All concerns regarding any fire station closure or fire service reductions & cut-backs for Contra Costa County Fire should be directed to your local board of supervisors. Their contact information can be found through the link at the bottom.
We also send out updates and information on our Twitter account @CCCFirefighters, our blog (http://contracostafirefighters.wordpress.com/), and our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ContraCostaFirefighters
Thank you for all of your continued interest and concerns for your local fire department!
Why Do We Send a Fire Engine to a Medical Emergency?
Many people haven’t thought of what to expect when they dial 911. If they have, they may figure that a call for help means that someone will show up relatively quickly and deal with their problem. If someone were to ask you why you would call 911 you would list a handful of situations. At the top of that list would likely be a medical emergency, fire, burglar and the like. But do you give much thought to who shows up or how they get there and who decided that is the best way to respond to your emergency call? In these challenging economic times, we are all looking for ways to save money, reduce waste, and eliminate duplications in services, but is sending a fire engine with three specially trained professionals a duplication of service?
When you call 911 in Contra Costa County, your 911 call is routed to the Fire District for emergency medical calls. Every Fire District dispatcher is certified in emergency medical dispatch (EMD) and trained to ask a series of questions to determine the best response.
Why send a fire engine? The Fire District is the primary medical first responder in most communities due to short response times, a skilled workforce, and the ability to bring time-sensitive, life-saving interventions to a patient quickly. Think of a fire engine as a multi-use platform for fires, rescue, and emergency medical service (EMS) calls where three trained professionals are always ready and available for the next emergency call, whatever it is. The apparatus are big and expensive but very versatile. They are like a giant tool box filled with the tools that can save your life.
The current EMS delivery model in our county includes a priority dispatch of the closest paramedic fire engine with a typical response time of 4-6 minutes. A simultaneous dispatch of a private paramedic ambulance with a required (by contract) response time of no more than 11 minutes and 45 seconds occurs. The Emergency Medical Dispatcher will give pre-arrival instructions to the 911 caller, if applicable. The engine will arrive to evaluate the situation and begin patient treatment. The ambulance will arrive and, depending on the situation, either assist fire paramedics already at the scene or take over patient care prior to transport to the appropriate hospital. Regardless of who arrives first, the fire and ambulance crews work together to provide you with patient care.
Recent advances in emergency medicine have contributed to increases in patient survival rates. Our county has a survival rate of 35.5% for witnessed cardiac arrests with a shockable heart rhythm. That percentage is astounding compared to the national average of 20.5%. The combined efforts of the County EMS Authority, our Fire District, AMR ambulance, and the hospital system continue to make a difference!
While the primary mission of the fire service has changed dramatically in the past fifty years, fires still occur with regular frequency in our county. In our Fire District, we still experience a significant level of fire activity, both structural and wildland. The geographical coverage afforded by fire station locations and the number of fire engines within our Fire District allows us the capability to address both fire and emergency medical response.
Our County has an integrated EMS team. The County EMS Authority, who has the ultimate responsibility for the delivery of these services, has worked diligently to provide the highest level of EMS care possible. Working together, the emergency medical dispatch, fire engines with advanced life support paramedics, transport ambulances, and emergency rooms do not provide a duplication of service but rather an organized systematic approach to medical emergencies in our county. The initial response, detection, and treatment of critical trauma, stroke and heart attack provide our residents with the best chance for survival. Current survival rates for sudden cardiac arrest are at the highest in the county’s history and every responder in the system makes significant contributions to that success.
The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District provides 23 staffed fire companies with three personnel – at least one of those personnel on each fire apparatus is a paramedic. Our fire apparatus provide all the necessary tools, equipment, supplies, drugs, and medications to provide advanced life support emergency medical care.
The Relationship of Fire Department First Response to Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
Fire services play a vital role in providing an engine "first response" to 9-1-1 medical emergencies. In some areas (Moraga-Orinda and San Ramon Valley) fire services also provide emergency ambulance response. In other areas of Contra Costa County, emergency ambulance response to 9-1-1 calls is provided by a private company, American Medical Response (AMR).
With significant budgetary pressures currently affecting nearly all public sector entities, Contra Costa County has already been impacted by cutbacks in fire service in some areas, and may see more cutbacks in the months ahead. Fire station closures mean fewer fire engines available for medical first response. Where first responder response times are delayed, critical interventions needed in the early stages of some calls may be delayed and, in the most serious cases, treatment delays may affect patient outcome. The coordinated response of fire and ambulance services is an essential partnership in the care of 9-1-1 patients.
Although 9-1-1 ambulance response times are not impacted be these changes, ambulance service cannot duplicate fire first response times or activities.
To learn more about how the Contra Costa County EMS System works and the roles of first responders, dispatch centers, and fire agencies, click on the link below to take you to the Contra Costa Health Services "Report to the LAFCO" dated August 2012.
Getting emergency medical help to your location requires many partnerships when calling 9-1-1: a 9-1-1 telephone system must route calls to a dispatch center; the dispatch center must gather information and communicate it to field personnel; field personnel must stabilize the patient; the ambulance and/or helicopter must transport the patient to the hospital; the hospital must triage the patient, possibly further stabilize the patient, and send him or her to the appropriate specialist.
Click on the link to our FAQ section to find more information on what emergency medical services (EMS) is and how it is delivered to you in Contra Costa County.
Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Fire Explorer Program
The Contra Costa County Fire District Explorer Program is designed for young adults between the ages of 14 to 21 that live in Contra Costa County who are interested in learning about a career in the Fire Service. The program is a joint venture with the Boy Scouts of America’s Learning for Life. In addition to learning about the Fire Service, the Explorer program’s main goal is to provide the young adult with a sense of responsibility to their neighborhood through on-going community related activities.
An Explorer program is typically the first opportunity for most young people interested in a career in the fire service to see an in depth view at what it takes to become a professional firefighter. You will be enveloped in fire service etiquette, culture and the wonderful history of the fire service. You will be exposed to intensive training and stressful scenarios to begin the firm foundation required to become a professional firefighter. This is not an easy job; we are looking for the future of our organization, and will have the highest standards.
After meeting the program’s entrance requirements, you will be given an opportunity to attend a minimum of 12 drills in a year. At the drills, you will be trained by Professional Firefighters and will learn: fire fighting skills, hose lay evolutions, ladder techniques, salvage operations, wildland fire fighting procedures, proper use of fire fighting tools and equipment, breathing apparatus use and other related subjects. Upon completing various certification requirements, you will be qualified to ride along on an Engine or Truck and respond to actual fire and medical emergencies. During these 12 and 24 hour ride a-longs, you will use the training you received in the monthly drills to assist Department personnel on emergency incidents and participate in other station activities and duties.
Contra Costa County Fire - Free Smoke Alarm Program
YOU MAY BE ELIGIBLE FOR A FREE SMOKE ALARM PLUS INSTALLATION IF:
YOU ARE LIVING WITHIN THE CONTRA COSTA COUNTY FIRE DISTRICT -
Including the communities of Antioch, Bay Point, Clayton, Clyde, Concord, El Sobrante, Lafayette, Martinez, Pacheco, Pinole (Tara Hills/Unincorporated Area), Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill, Port Chicago, Richmond (North/Unincorporated Area), San Pablo, and Walnut Creek
• YOU DO NOT HAVE A WORKING SMOKE ALARM IN YOUR HOME
• YOUR EXISTING SMOKE ALARM IS OVER 10 YEARS OLD.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT CONTRA COSTA COUNTY FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
Contra Costa County Community Warning System (CWS)
The Contra Costa County Community Warning System (CWS) is a comprehensive warning system for alerting people in Contra Costa County to imminent threats to their life or health. In partnership with local industry, government, news media, and the public, the community will be alerted and informed of emergencies through various forms of communication:
* sirens near major industrial facilities and safety zones
* Countywide telephone notification system
* NOAA Weather Radio
* Radio, TV, and Cable via the Emergency Alert System (EAS)
* Cell phone notification
* Twitter alerts ~ follow CoCoCWS
Different hazards may call for you to take different actions to protect yourself, your family, and your neighbors. You may be advised to "shelter in place" where you are or get ready to evacuate, or you may be asked to do something else to help emergency responders.
When asked to "shelter in place":
1. shelter inside away from the outside air
2. shut and lock doors and windows; turn off vents, air conditioners, and fans
3. listen for notifications and broadcasts of official information learn about how long to shelter in place and what you can do protect your health
ALERTS ON YOUR CELL PHONE -
Go to: http://cws.cccounty.us
Enter your cell phone number and zip codes for which you'd like to receive alerts.
For more information call 925-313-9622 or http://cws.cccounty.us
You can help fight fires! Call the Arson Tip Line at 1-866-50-ARSON to leave a recorded message about fire-related criminal activity, in English or Spanish. You can leave an anonymous tip, but sometimes the Fire Investigator needs to call you back for more information, so we ask for your name and phone number. All investigations are treated confidentially.
Community involvement is critical to solving cases of arson. In general, the citizens of Contra Costa County are very helpful in providing authorities information about crimes that have occurred in their communities.
You can make a difference! When you call the Arson Tip Line, don’t worry if you think the information you have seems too little or unimportant. Some of our best tips come from citizens who were not aware that what they saw was really very important to the investigation of an incident.
1. What is “ARSON”
Arson can be where someone intentionally, recklessly, or unlawfully sets a fire or is responsible for starting a fire.
2. When should you call the tip line?
You should call when you actually see or hear who was involved in the fire.
3. If you call the tip line, will someone respond immediately?
Remember, the “tip line” is for messages that we will check every day. If you need immediate assistance, call your local law enforcement agency or the fire department directly.
4. If you leave a message, is your information anonymous?
Yes, your information can be anonymous if you wish. Please specify in your message if you do not want to be identified or contacted by investigators. But remember, a good witness is one of the best crime fighting tools there is!
** Arson Tip: It is up to ALL of us to do the right thing. Let’s stomp out firesetters! For additional information please call the Contra Costa Fire Protection District main office at (925)941-3300.
The Contra Costa Fire Protection District Public Education Unit is committed to the Fire and Life Safety education of every child and adult in our Fire District. For many years the Education Unit has been improving and widening its program outreach so that our citizenry could have the education best suited to their specific needs. It has always been our intention to prepare the residents of our District to know the exact ways in which to prevent a fire or fire injury from ever happening and to react appropriately if the worse should occur.
Our outreach has expanded by the thousands every year as more and more citizens become aware of the education available to them. Statistics show that educating the public in matters of life and safety reduces casualties. Not only in the number of citizens but also the Firefighters who respond.
The Contra Costa Regional Fire Communications Center, also known as CCRFCC, is staffed with 15 full time dispatchers on 48 hour shifts and handles around 87,000 calls per year. The CCRFCC dispatches calls for 7 fire agencies including Contra Costa County, Rodeo/Hercules, Pinole, Crockett, Moraga/Orinda, East Contra Costa and unincorporated Richmond, San Pablo and El Cerrito. The CCRFCC is also the Operational Area Coordinator for Contra Costa County, meaning that it is the requesting point for mutual aid, both when the CCRFCC makes a request and when the CCRFCC receives requests from the California Office of Emergency Services. Mutual aid is an agreement between two different fire agencies that agree to assist each by sending engines and firefighters when one agency makes a request for assistance. A good example of mutual aid is when the Oakland Fire Department requested assistance for more fire engines and firefighters from local fire agencies during the 1991 Oakland Hills Firestorm.
The CCRFCC is a secondary public safety answering point or PSAP, meaning that 911 calls are routed through a local law enforcement agency before being transferred to the CCRFCC. When 911 is dialed from a regular phone, the CCRFCC receives information from the caller such as the phone number and address of the emergency. However, when dialing 911 from a cellular phone or a computer using VOIP, the CCRFCC does not receive an address automatically on their computer screen but rather has to ask the 911 caller for it. The increase of cellular phones and VOIP calls has made getting the correct responses to the correct locations much more difficult. By not having the correct address of an emergency, there may be a delay in getting the appropriate response from the fire department and/or ambulance agency to the correct location.
CCRFCC dispatchers are certified Emergency Medical Dispatchers (EMD's). Dispatchers give medical instructions to callers and prioritize calls according to the National Academy of Emergency Medical Dispatcher (NAEMD) and Contra Costa County medical protocols. This runs the gamut of basic medical advice, to CPR instructions, or assisting with child delivery. Dispatchers receive continuing education and quality improvement review throughout the year, and must recertify in CPR every 2 years.
CCRFCC dispatchers are also qualified to respond out on major fires in a variety of overhead positions to help support a large scale incident. Several dispatchers have gone out to assist at major fires when local staffing allows. Dispatchers also participate in ongoing department training for various types of calls and drills.
The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District’s Fire Investigation Unit is a full service investigative group providing around the clock coverage 365 days a year. Between the three dedicated investigators there is a little over 60 years of fire investigation experience. Additionally the unit members have attended several thousand hours of specialized fire investigation training during their careers. The members of the FIU came to the District with various backgrounds such as full time fire and law enforcement service as well as the private fire investigation field.
The District’s Investigators perform origin and cause investigations to determine where and how a fire started as well the potential that the fire could have been the result of arson. If a fire was caused intentionally then it is the FIU’s task to seek out the responsible(s) and seek prosecution.
Occasionally through the course of investigations fire causes can be identified regarding product failures that can lead to recalls that can potentially prevent further injury and death to fire suppression personnel and the citizens in the communities we serve.
The field of fire investigation is extremely specialized with a limited number of truly certified individuals with the training and experience to perform thorough, competent investigations.
The Fire Investigation Unit is considered the “authority” in fire/arson investigation by the law enforcement and fire service jurisdictions as well as the District Attorney’s Office in ContraCostaCounty. Law Enforcement agencies tend to prefer that the FIU handle the majority of criminal cases that involve a fire and routinely rely on us to be the lead agency in the case because they do not have the expertise.
The Fire Investigation Unit is available to provide protective support for the fire inspectors tasked with fire life safety inspections where “officer safety” concerns are an issue anywhere in the county. Although always willing to help, local law enforcement agencies are just not able to be available to assist the District with our own fire life safety enforcement responsibilities.
As sworn peace officers the members of the FIU, while traversing the district have the potential of supporting any of the law enforcement officers while performing their duties.
While performing investigations the members of the Fire Investigation Unit have often recognized potential fire life safety hazards and relayed the information to the fire prevention bureau for a more expeditious response to mitigate the situation thus creating a safer environment.
The FIU collects most illegal and dangerous fireworks as required by the fire code from the general public so they don’t fall into the wrong hands again helping make our communities safer. Additionally, law enforcement agencies also surrender the fire works their officers collect during the year because they have no facility or storage capabilities.