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GVFD sees growth in calls, slight rise in response times

The Green Valley Fire District has seen a 27 percent increase in calls over the last five years and a slight increase in response times.

GVFD responded to 10,421 calls in 2016, up from 8,200 in 2011, according to records released Thursday.

The department is receiving more emergency services calls districtwide, but it is also seeing an increase in calls for such things as invalid assists, welfare calls, false alarms and smoke alarm calls, Chief Chuck Wunder said.

Overall, the department is doing well responding to the additional demands for service but is making some changes in an effort to keep up and maintain a reasonable response time, Wunder said.

Between 2010 and 2015, the department saw a 35-second increase in the average response time, increasing to 6 minutes, 20 seconds, from 5 minutes, 45 seconds, Wunder said.

“We are trying to get on scene of all emergency calls in less than eight minutes 90 percent of the time,” Wunder said.

The department is evaluating how and where it deploys its trucks, especially near Canoa Ranch on the southern border of the district and Camino Antigua on the northern border in Sahuarita to ensure first-responders meet the eight-minute goal. Wunder said he is considering adding another rescue vehicle to Station 151 on work days to supplement two engines there now.

“We are also hoping to put a peak demand rescue truck in service in July, when we transition to our new budget year, to help with our increase in call volume,” he said.

Wunder attribute the increase in service calls to an increased awareness of what services are available through the GVFD, particularly through its volunteer Fire Corps. Emergency calls are up because the population continues to grow and also because some residents, particularly winter visitors, have a challenge when it comes to accessing local health care, Wunder said.

The district’s nurse practitioner program and Fire Corps volunteer programs have been a big help handling the increased call volume, Wunder said.

“We would like to continue to encourage our communities to call the nurse practitioner before their issues become emergent. Our nurse practitioners can handle many urgent care type issues right in someone’s house,” Wunder said. “We are hopeful that the word will continue to spread about this program and that this might help reduce some calls for EMS service.”

The Fire Corps handles many of the service calls the emergency response units would otherwise have to handle and thus is a “tremendous benefit” to the organization, Wunder said.