Cartersville Fire Department this week released that July 2013’s response times for the agency had improved over those of 2012.
“Response times are critical to everything we do,” Fire Chief Scott Carter said. “In a fire situation, fire tends to double in size every 60 seconds. In a motor vehicle crash with traumatic injury, we are up against the golden hour; in a cardiac arrest, time is muscle. Time is our enemy in most situations. If nothing else, it is about the fear that our citizens feel until we arrive on the scene.”
According to information from CFD, in July 2012 64 percent of top priority calls had a response time of five minutes or less. In July 2013, however, that had improved to 74 percent.
The improvement has been attributed to the opening of the new headquarters on Cassville Road and the addition of station 4 on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Each station’s response district decreased with the additions from 10 square miles to 7.5 square miles.
“Simply put, we travel less distance to get to the same type call. We also have cleaner, more efficient response patterns,” Carter said. “For example, with the location of Station [No.] 4, we now have a straight shot via Joe Frank Harris Parkway and Main Street to I-75. For headquarters, which is now located on Cassville Road, it is more efficient and safer to respond into downtown instead of trying to respond out of the downtown district.”
Along with monitoring performance and looking at ways to increase efficiency, CFD worked with Bartow County E-911 on improving dispatching procedures.
“First, it is about education, making sure we understand how we can help improve 911 and their needs to dispatch properly and then us educating their operations to our need,” Carter said of the partnership. “We shifted the responsibility of deciding the closest unit from their console to our command staff. This allows them to tone out an alarm in a specific district and the battalion chief to change which apparatus is responding on the fly as needed to make sure the call is properly covered with the right equipment and shortest response time.
“We have also worked on decreasing the initial time from the point 911 receives the call and they tone out the department. [Maj. Jessica Pruett] and her staff at 911 have really worked hard to help us improve this area for both departments. All of these times will play a major factor under the new ISO — Insurance Service Organization — rating schedule, which will determine our local insurance classifications.”
For Carter, the change in response times benefits most those the department serves.
“I do not know what it says about us, but I do know that it is part of our DNA to always strive to improve our service for our citizens and guest,” he said. “My grandfather always told me if I was standing still, I was backing up. We can’t stand still — we must always look for ways to improve. Don’t our citizens deserve that?”