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Cutting costs on emergency calls

DANVILLE -- When you call 911, who shows up?
DANVILLE -- When you call 911, who shows up?

If you live in Danville, it depends on the emergency. The Danville Fire Department is changing how it responds to calls. There are certain medical emergencies firefighters won't automatically respond to anymore, like fainting or going into labor. It all comes down to whether it's life-threatening or not.

Roy Withers has diabetes. His problems include low blood sugar.

"You can get to the point, if it's too high, you can actually pass out," said Withers.

If he had called 911 with that medical problem a few months ago, an ambulance wouldn't be the only vehicle showing up. Fire trucks would be there too. But that's no longer the case, Danville Public Safety officials say too many times crews suit up and roll out for a non-emergency. One time - it was a pregnancy call.

"Fire was dispatched along with medics. They had a woman waiting. All she wanted was a ride to the hospital," said Director Larry Thomason.

Now fire crews don't automatically respond to the following types of calls:
  • Allergic reactions/stings, bites
  • Convulsions/seizures
  • Diabetic problems.
  • Heat/cold exposure
  • Overdose/poisoning (ingestion)
  • Pregnancy/childbirth
  • Stroke
  • Traffic/transportation incidents
  • Unconscious/Near fainting

Of course, they say it's not a hard-and-fast rule. It just comes down to one question - is your life on the line?

"Entrapment, heart problems, those things are traumatic, life-threatening. Fire will be out there, medics as well," said Thomason.

The new guidelines cut calls in half. That's suppose to help with the budget because each time a fire truck heads out - it costs money.

Something Winthers says he understands, especially in this economy. 

"I don't know. It might work out pretty good. I guess we'll just have to try it like everything else, and find out," he said.
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