BEAVERCREEK TWP.,Ohio (WDTN) – Fire departments across the Miami Valley are battling more than just fires.
There’s often a decrease in staff, but an increase in calls, which means firefighters are depending more and more on other departments.
But these first responders are in a brotherhood, a sisterhood. And working together and protecting each other comes as part of being a firefighter.
But that can come at a cost.
“Sometimes that’s a vicious circle cause when you go to help somebody else, that leaves a void in our operations,” Beavercreek Township Fire Deputy Chief Scott Dorsten explained. “If another call were to come in, we may have to call mutual aid to help fill that void.”
Deputy Chief Dorsten is describing mutual aid, a regional system fire departments use to lean on one another for backup when needed.
Beavercreek Township Fire reports that an increase in run volume has a direct connection to an increase in calls for mutual aid.
2 NEWS requested the numbers from the township, and found in the first half of the year, call volume is up 4 percent compared to 2014.
The township’s requests for mutual aid are slightly up as well, and compared to last year Beavercreek Township Fire is responding to twice as many mutual aid requests.
For residents that could cause a problem, and not with your care.
“The transporting unit is the only unit allowed to bill for the services,” Dorsten said,
If insured, your medical provider may only pay a portion for the ambulance transportation.
For this example, if you’re a Beavercreek or Beavercreek Township resident, the fire department won’t charge you for the balance.
That is only if you live in those areas. But if mutual aid is requested and another city’s department transports you to the hospital, you’ll likely have to pay that city the difference.
Billing like this is standard practice in the Miami Valley; Beavercreek is just one example.
In many communities, if mutual aid helps you, it could mean paying hundreds of dollars that you otherwise would not have paid if your own district’s department was dispatched to your home.
“The way staffing is, and anywhere in this area, it just– it’s not always possible,” the deputy chief reflected.
For Beavercreek Township Fire, the department recently lost 9 of its part-time firefighters in favor of hiring only full-time.
It’s a challenge to meet the demand with a smaller staff, but it’s a feat many department have and will continue to face.
Dorsten says there’s no easy fix to ensure your district’s firefighters and EMTs respond to your door when you call for help.
2 NEWS asked what then does a department do you do when you’re getting increased calls, but not as many men and women on the streets.
Dorsten replied, “We’re always evaluating how we staff our apparatus and which apparatus is staffed and how we’re going to meet those incidents.”
As 2 NEWS explained earlier in this article, mutual aid usage is not just exclusive to Beavercreek Township.
However, the department was willing to speak to 2 NEWS about mutual aid and some of its financial consequences to area residents.
Whoever comes to the rescue, all area firefighters and EMTS can vouch that you will receive the utmost care, despite the different billing circumstances you may encounter after your hospitalization and recovery.