KY Fire Departments See Medical Calls Increase

The photo shows a white ambulance.
File Photo

James Mayse

Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky.


Calls for service to Owensboro and Daviess County firefighters increased during the third quarter of the year, according to data compiled by the city-county 911 dispatch center.

Paul Nave, the city-county 911 director, told the 911 board Wednesday morning that while the overall number of calls to dispatch decreased slightly, calls that required a response from the Owensboro Fire Department increased 12% in the third quarter of the year. Calls that prompted a response by the Daviess County Fire Department increased 14%, Nave said.

Calls to law enforcement agencies were “a little bit in the negative” during the quarter, Nave said. But both fire departments “had significant increases” in calls for service, he said.

The increase seems primarily driven by medical emergency calls. The city and county departments respond to medical emergencies, which make up the bulk of their emergency runs.

“I can’t say 100%, but I would say it’s mostly medical,” Nave said. “It’s not fires.”

The third quarter (July through September) covers months when the Delta variant was surging. Nave said 911 calls for breathing emergencies are up.

“We have more breathing difficulty (calls) than we’ve had in the past,” Nave said. “People, in an abundance of caution, are calling for medical health” when they have breathing issues.

City Fire Chief James Howard told board members officials were reviewing the run data with Nave.

“If anyone is experiencing a 12% uptick, you have to take that seriously,” Howard said. “We are looking at those numbers, too. We want to make sure we are responding where we can do the most good.”

County Fire Chief Jeremy Smith said the increase in calls prompted the department to reduce the number of responders it sends to medical emergencies. The department did the same thing last year, at the onset of the pandemic.

“We will try to send a minimal amount (of responders) to a residence,” while keeping other firefighters on standby, Smith said. That reduces the number of firefighters who could potentially be exposed to COVID-19 on a medical call, while keeping other firefighters available to make calls, Smith said.

“It freed us up to have another unit” available, Smith said.

Department officials are hoping the calls will decrease with county COVID-19 cases on the decline, Smith said.

“It seems like the last couple of days, knock on wood, have been a little more quiet,” he said.

James Mayse, 270-691-7303,, Twitter: @JamesMayse


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