Staff reductions worry Lyndon residents


by Claudia Coffey

Posted on June 14, 2013 at 7:08 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Changes are coming to the Lyndon Fire Protection District and it will have a huge impact on how long firefighters take to respond to emergencies.

Beginning July 1, staff reductions will take place and it has sparked serious concerns from residents in Lyndon.

“They have had to cut back on emergency runs and that concerns me cause you never know which one is going to be the real important one,” Lyndon resident Anthony Terry said.

Terry isn’t the only resident expressing concerns over the fire department’s cuts and the impact it will have on service.

“We have all had someone we love and have a medical emergency and how they are gonna know the difference,” he said.

Budget constraints forced the fire protection district to make the tough decision to cut the staff by three. It may not sound like much, but in this small area it directly affects firefighters’ ability to respond quickly to emergencies.

The cuts take effect next month and already they are making plans for how to handle the changes.

“We are also going to be going to an echo response for EMS which means we will only be responding to the most serious calls. Cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest and significant trauma,” Captain Rich Bliven said.

Lyndon has tried a number of ways to cut back over the past year but none of them have worked.

“We tried to lobby legislators in Frankfort to allow us to raise the fire tax cap rate for special districts and that was unsuccessful,” Bliven said.

For some residents, they are not concerned. They’d rather take a wait and see approach.

“I think everything is going pretty good,” resident Wayne Nay said.

For others, it’s a move that could mean the difference between life and death.

"You are going to have someone there to make a decision and if they don’t make the run at all how is that gonna be done," Terry said.

Captain Bliven sent a clarification to shortly after the story aired.

The response time of the Lyndon Fire department will remain at an average of four (4) minutes. The reduction in staffing will have no affect whatsoever on our response time. The point regarding a longer response time that we are trying to make is that, as a result of us reducing the number of EMS call types we will respond to, citizens in the Lyndon district will wait longer for EMS service as Louisville Metro EMS has a much greater average response time than we do. For example; someone who calls 911 with chest pain could wait anywhere from 10-15 minutes (or more) for an ambulance to arrive and provide medical care, where we would have been there in 4 minutes. The reduction in EMS call types we will respond to takes effect July 1, 2013.

We are not closing a firehouse, nor is it an option at this time. We are realizing a small revenue savings in wages by reducing our staff by 3 positions. However, if the budget trend continues, we could consider closing a firehouse. This option is 3-4 years out at this time.

It is important that our residents understand that, while the types of medical responses we respond to will be reduced, our response times will not be diminished for the emergency calls that we continue to respond to.