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"Dad taught me everything I know. Unfortunately, he didn't teach me everything he knows."
– Al Unser  
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  Volume No. 15 Issue No. 6 June 2018  

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  Ambulance and fires
  By Robin Widmar

   Emergency medical incidents do not typically garner the same attention as major fire incidents. However, in 2017, EMS calls and traffic accidents accounted for 56 percent of all calls for service within the Falcon Fire Protection District. About 70 percent of those incidents resulted in patients being transported via ambulance to local hospitals.
   
   Last month’s FFPD column discussed ambulance service in the Falcon area, but some residents may still be wondering how ambulance service has evolved in El Paso County and why it is becoming an issue now. Here is a brief overview.
   
   According to information on the El Paso County and ESA (El Paso County Emergency Service Authority) websites, the ESA was created in 2014 by an intergovernmental agreement between the city of Fountain and El Paso County. ESA’s role in county emergency medical services is to oversee response time requirements and overall contract compliance with the county’s ambulance provider (currently American Medical Response — AMR). Twelve members representing the Fountain City Council, the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners and the Pikes Peak Fire Chiefs Forum comprise the ESA board.
   
   Prior to 2013, the city of Colorado Springs and El Paso County had a joint contract with AMR to provide emergency transport services within the city and county. In 2013, the city of Colorado Springs announced its intent to enter into its own contract with an ambulance transport provider effective April 2014, citing the need to directly manage its contract for emergency transport and ensure the best service for its citizens. That ambulance provider was AMR. ESA subsequently entered into a separate contract, which also happened to be with AMR. The city contract with AMR expires Dec. 31, 2018, while the county’s AMR contract expires a year later on Dec. 31, 2019.
   
   On March 5, Priority Ambulance issued a press release stating that the company had been selected as “the highest-scoring firm” in the city’s competitive bid process, and was entering negotiations with the city of Colorado Springs. A memo sent to Colorado Springs AMR employees said that AMR “will continue to fight to retain the contract.”
   
   Regardless of the outcome, the future of ambulance transport for El Paso County residents remains uncertain for now. It is not known if the city’s ambulance provider will eventually also provide services to the county or whether the county will pursue a contract with a different provider.
   
   It is important to note that four county fire departments (Fountain, Security, Black Forest Fire/Rescue and Tri-Lakes Monument) operate their own ambulance transport services independent of the ESA contract. The Falcon Fire Protection District is currently exploring the possibility of creating its own ambulance service.
  
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  March wildfires a reminder to be prepared
  By Robin Widmar

   March saw a number of wildfires in El Paso County. The ongoing lack of precipitation combined with wind and above-average temperatures produced conditions ripe for wildfires. On March 16, live fire training at Ft. Carson sparked a fire that spread off post, burning 3,300 acres, destroying three homes, and forcing the evacuation of 250 others. Falcon residents had their own scare on March 20 when a trailer full of straw caught fire and ignited roadside grass. Winds then pushed the fire south into open land on the Banning Lewis Ranch, eventually charring 242 acres.
   
   These incidents highlight the importance of being ready to evacuate with little warning. Even residents of urbanized areas can be forced from their homes by wildfires or other catastrophes, so it pays to be prepared.
  • Make it a habit to be aware of what is going on around home, workplace or school.
  • Create emergency kits for evacuation and shelter-in-place situations.
  • Develop and practice family evacuation and communication plans.
  • Don’t forget to prepare for pets and livestock!

   For helpful checklists and information about preparing for a variety of emergency situations, including wildfires, go to the Ready.gov website at http://ready.gov.
  
A pronghorn buck isn’t phased by the March 20 Woodmen Road grass fire in the background.
 
The fire burned 242 acres; multiple agencies helped as the winds kept shifting directions. Photos by Robin Widmar
 
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  Safety Tip
  April is safe digging month
  By Robin Widmar

   Spring has sprung and homeowners everywhere are eager to begin gardening and doing outdoor home improvement projects. Before starting any projects that require digging, however, contact Colorado 811 to request utility location services.
   
   April is National Safe Digging Month. Colorado 811 uses this designation to remind residents about the hazards of striking underground utilities such as electrical and gas lines. The organization stated in a March press release that homeowners were three times more likely to hit a buried utility line if they did not contact 811 before breaking ground. Striking a utility line can result in injuries, fines, repair costs and outages.
   
   Homeowners should contact Colorado 811 at least three business days before starting even simple projects such as installing a fence, building a deck or planting a tree or shrub. The depth of utility lines can vary for several reasons, and the risk of striking a utility line exists even when digging just a few inches, according to Colorado 811.
   
   To request a utility location, simply call 8-1-1 or submit a request through Ticket Express at: http://colorado811.org/ticket-express/ A professional utility locator will be sent to the requested digging site to mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, paint or both.
   
   For more information about digging safely, visit http//co811.org.
   
   
Stay connected with the FFPD
   Website: http://falconfirepd.org
   Facebook: Falcon Fire Department
   Twitter: @FalconFireDept
  
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