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County fire service sees sharp decrease in 2020 calls

The County of Grande Prairie Fire Service saw a 20 per cent dip in total calls in 2020. County of Grande Prairie Regional Fire Service Fire Chief Dan Verdun says they saw 1,589 calls across the region in 2020, down from 1,889 in 2019. Verdun says the COVID-19 pandemic was certainly a leading reason for the lack of calls.

“We can relate directly to the fact for the last 13 months we’ve had a pretty changed atmosphere, including some initial lockdowns early on in the pandemic,” he adds.

Verdun says even the traditionally largest segment of calls, medical co-responses, were lower than usual. He says despite taking in over 500 medical calls, they worked closely with Alberta Health Services to mitigate risk for their primarily volunteer service.

“Ones that were confirmed to be COVID-19 related calls, or had high symptomatology of a COVID-19 call, they simply did not dispatch our services, and send AHS or ambulance to those calls,” he says.

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“When you’re talking about 531 calls out of 1,600, it’s a substantial number,” says Verdun, adding that medicals call volume is usually 45 per cent of the call volume, but the past year dropped to approximately 33 per cent.

The annual report, presented to County of Grande Prairie council on Monday, also shows roughly 300 calls were motor vehicle collisions.

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