Drew Best’s Capstone Blog

  • Fire/EMS Annual Report Dominates Conversation at Latest Whitewater Common Council Meeting

    WHITEWATER, Wis. – The Whitewater Fire Department delivered their 2023 annual report to the Whitewater Common Council at last Tuesday’s meeting. This report came after a year where the Fire Department first experimented with a new staffing scheme and data collection system.  

    Assistant Fire Chief Ryan Dion presented data pertaining to each of the different steps of the fire and EMS systems, and how those numbers compared to 2022 before the Fire/EMS referendum that bolstered the operational budget by $1.1 million. The referendum allowed for increased staffing from one to four full-time employees per day for the fire department, as well as an upgrade from the Advanced EMT level to the Paramedic level.

    The department also moved to a new digital record management software in 2023. This database brought them the updated statistics that were presented to the City Council. According to Asst. Chief Dion, This allowed for “A good solid year of data for everything” post-referendum. 

    Key analytics that stood out from the presentation were overall improved statistics. The average turnout time between receiving the call and leaving the station in 2023 decreased from an average of nearly five minutes to 1 minute, 31 seconds. The average city response time after departure was 3 minutes, 12 seconds, with roughly 78 percent of the 1,913 total calls going to EMS response. 

    “That’s the time from when the dispatcher pushes the button on average until help is at your front door in the city” Asst. Chief Dion said. “Over a year ago, we hadn’t even left yet 40 percent of the time.”

    Asst. Chief Dion also reported on the major Fire/EMS responses, which highlighted major incidents in the city. All of the major fires were contained at least to the building of origin, with only one resulting in a minor civilian injury. In terms of EMS response, all of their major casualties were treated and led to recovery in each of the presented responses. Dion still emphasized the importance of learning from these experiences to improve treatment on the scene.

    “We saw their badly mangled leg and we fixed it. We saw the bump on their head and we fixed it. But what we didn’t see was a collapsed lung or a tension pneumothorax” Dion stated. “It gears our people to start looking for these unseen injuries, and we use it for training.” 

    The council took no formal action on the report from the assistant fire chief.

    Following the Fire/EMS annual report were discussions pertaining to construction projects in the city. Three contracts were awarded to Rock Road Companies that totalled $3.2 million. The Public Works committee already had a budget of $3.3 million. 

    The city also reduced the Vanderlip Pumping Station project budget by $90,000 down to $379,000 following approval of construction in October 2023. Each of these projects were approved by the Council.

    Additionally from this meeting, the upcoming schedule saw one slight change. The council meeting that was originally scheduled for Tuesday, April 2 will now be held Thursday, April 4 instead as declared by the council. According to city ordinance, any Council meetings that fall on an election night are moved to the following Thursday.

    More topics that were brought up in the meeting included the following:

    • Introduction of Estee Scholtz, a Walworth County Circuit Court Judge Candidate
    • Still no action on the Whitewater Aquatic Center regarding the distribution of funding between the school district and the city
    • Demolition has begun on the Hawk Bowl, which will soon be replaced by an Aldi grocery store

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