MARSHFIELD, WI (OnFocus) – A total of 19 calls in a 24-hour time period is virtually unheard of for the Marshfield Fire and Rescue Department but on Sept. 23-24, the department was tested.
Lieutenant Kelly Esker said a normal day would consist of anywhere from 8-10 ambulance calls alone. The department was short staffed with running only eight members for the shift and had to call in reserve people to help handle calls.
Marshfield Ambulance 95 was dispatched to 10 different incidences throughout the shift.
Marshfield Fire was deployed to three different scenes. One of the fire calls was was made when there were already two ambulance crews out on separate calls. There were three members of the department left in the building and all three had to respond to the structure fire call. Luckily, it ended up being a false alarm and no additional units needed to be called in.
Not only does the department help with emergencies, but it also services local medical transports. During the hectic day, the department helped with two neonatal transports from other facilities to the Marshfield Medical Center.
Despite the busy night, Esker said ambulance crews rotate so that helps a bit with fatigue.
“For the paramedics, they tend to rotate on the ambulance,” Esker said. “Most of them were up all night long. Some days when you’re on the ambulance you usually can plan on being up most of the hours of the night especially right now with how busy it has been.”
Ideally, the department would have 12 people available at all times but due to staffing shortages, they have been working with eight as of late.
If the department were to ever run out of staff to cover emergencies, they would have to utilize the mutual aid communication system (MABAS) put in place a few years ago.
Esker said mutual aid works both ways but with less people volunteering at local departments, more demand has been placed for aid from paid departments like Marshfield.
“Less people are volunteering now-a-days,” Esker said. “That means we’re having to cover more areas. Say Spencer or Stratford doesn’t have people during the day, they’ll call a mutual aid and we’ll go respond. But that means we lose another ambulance and personnel for our area.”
Esker said the busy days help expose newer members of the department to stressful and demanding situations.
“It’s an exciting time when you’re busy,” Esker said. “That’s what you’re trained to do. It just builds more experience. We’re a really young department, so it’s nice to get some of those experiences for some of the newer people.”
The busy nights aren’t all about experience as Esker said it can add fatigue towards the later hours of the shift.
“Sometimes you get a little foggy on the way home,” Esker said. “Just being here creates a little anxiety. You’re dead asleep and the tones go off and all of a sudden your heart rate is going 100 beats a minute. It definitely wears on you.”
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