Holt fire chiefs says overall calls down due to wet spring

In addition to responding to emergency calls due to fires and accidents, Holt Community Fire Protection District Chief Robert Looper participates in community education events like the Kearney Business Group's annual expo, seen here from last year, to educate the public on technological advancements used in life-saving procedures.

HOLT — Calls for service for Holt Community Fire Protection District were down in 2019 compared to 2018 due to an usually wet spring, said Chief Robert Looper.

“We normally see 30 to 40 natural cover fires in the spring around March when residents are burning storm debris for the winter, but that was not the case in 2019,” he said, adding total calls on 2019 were 488, down from 565 in 2018.

While total calls were the down, the most common call type remained emergency medical calls. To help with these calls, in 2019 the district purchased a battery powered extrication tool that is now part of the equipment on the district's ambulance. The most concentrated areas in the year for calls, the chief said, come from accidents along Interstate 35 and curves along Missouri Highway PP, east of Holt.

“It paid for itself only weeks after we received it when we were able to remove a door from an overturned vehicle to free the injured driver in minutes. Normally we would have to wait for another crew to arrive with extrication tools. This saved precious minutes that we don't always have,” said Looper.

While overall calls were down to fewer fire calls with a wet spring, having dangerous roadways and a large percentage of emergency medical calls means the district needs added staff, said Looper.

“For 2020, we are putting a tax levy increase request to our residents on the April ballot to increase manpower at the station. We currently only have two personnel on duty at any given time and we need to increase that to three. Two people are just not enough to efficiently handle critically ill or injured patients, extrications, rescues and certainly not fires of any kind,” he said. “A third person makes a world of difference on these true emergencies.”

Managing Editor Amanda Lubinski can be reached at amanda.lubinski@mycouriertribune.com or 903-6001.

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