Over a series of the next several Public Safety and Affairs (PA & S) Committee meetings, the Committee members plan to review the City of Elmhurst’s public safety performance. At the PA & S Committee meeting on Monday, February 13, 2017, the committee began their review. The committee was charged with this task as a result of a referral from the City Council to analyze public safety departments including an examination of how calls are processed, response times and mutual aid. “In Elmhurst, we pride ourselves on a high standard of excellence for our public services,” said PA & S Chairperson Alderman Chris Healy, “It is only prudent that we review those services, test them against benchmarks and seek potential ways to improve, where needed.”
At the Feb. 13 meeting, Fire Chief Tom Freeman and City Manager Jim Grabowski gave a presentation to the Committee which provided an overview of the City’s public safety services. The presentation also included information on emergency call dispatch, number and types of calls, mutual aid and response times. The City is a founding member of the DuPage Public Safety Communications (DUCOMM) for police, fire and paramedic dispatch service. Types of calls are coded with pre-determined responses for each type of emergency. The City contracts with Metro Paramedic Services Inc./Superior Ambulance to provide paramedic and ambulatory services to the City. This contract has been a financially sound decision over the past 40 years, with significant cost savings realized by the City. Elmhurst continues to benefit from the high level of training and the state-of-the-art equipment provided by Superior.
As a benchmark for response times, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA 1710) sets standards for career fire departments in many different respects. For the purpose of the PA & S meeting, the NFPA states that the first responder must arrive within 4 minutes for at least 90% of the calls for service. An Advanced Life Support (ALS) unit must arrive within 8 minutes for at least 90% of the calls for service. In the City of Elmhurst, the preferred response time for the Elmhurst ambulance is 4-6 minutes; however, Elmhurst exceeds that standard with a response time of less than 4 minutes. The mutual aid ambulance response is less than 7.38 minutes, which also exceeds the NFPA standard.
Over the past ten years, calls for fire assistance have remained the same while Emergency Medical Services (EMS) have increased from under 3,000 calls in 2006 to over 4,000 calls in 2016. Mutual aid calls account for less than 3.5% each year for incoming assistance and about 7% for outgoing assistance annually. Mutual aid is a reciprocal agreement to provide emergency assistance to neighboring communities if needed, in order to ensure that all emergency events are staffed with a sufficient number of personnel and appropriate equipment.
The next PA&S Committee Meeting is Monday, February 27, 2017 at 7 p.m. at City Hall. The Committee will continue its review of the City of Elmhurst’s public safety performance.