SHFAD Reviews February Operations: Review and Budget Planning Highlights

Photo by Sky Chappell – SHFAD Fire Chief Nick Tyler commended the district’s efforts to maintain call volumes as well as their training efforts while facing very challenging circumstances at the SHFAD board meeting.

At the March 19, Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District (SHFAD) board meeting, Fire Chief Nick Tyler presented a comprehensive overview of call volume and response times, shedding light on the district’s operational performance for the month of February.

Tyler commenced the discussion by distributing a packet containing the ESO documents, which was produced by the new ESO program the district has acquired. ESO offers an integrated suite of software products for EMS agencies, fire departments, and hospitals that work to assist first responders in the collection, sharing, reporting, and analyzing critical information to improve community health and safety. “This is what our call volume report will kind of start looking like,” Tyler remarked as he delved into the details.

Tyler reported that SHFAD responded to a total of 275 calls from Feb. 1 to Feb. 29. Among these calls, 8.4% were classified as EMS calls. Notable categories within the call data included 55 calls for public service assistance, comprising 5.5% of the total calls, and 5.5% for dispatch cancellations.

In terms of transport percentages by paramedics, Tyler revealed that the overall transport rate for the month was 65%. However, discrepancies were noted during discussions, prompting Tyler to emphasize the ongoing process of refining data collection methods for accuracy.

“This is the transport percentage by paramedic. So you can see the transcript transportation or the transports column on the first, the non transports for total. It’s kind of nice to be able to break that down like that and look at individuals and see if there’s anything outstanding or that needs to be corrected. But down at the bottom there is that total. So it was a 65% transport rate for that month,” stated Tyler while also reminding board members he’s just learning how to use data mining.

Tyler further explained, “First, I noticed that the 275 calls for the 29 days of February The average is nine and a half calls a day. So the next one is the average response time. So these are going to be some of the things I’m looking at. They said 29 days, 127 responses. And our average response time was seven minutes and 12 seconds.”

He clarified to the board, “That’s not out of the Chute time. That’s a different category. And we’re right around, I want to say, it was like a minute 40 seconds to get out the door from dispatch to en route.”

Tyler stated this was what the end customer feels most. “When they call 911, the moment we get dispatched, it takes us on average, seven minutes and 12 seconds to get to their door. So I like looking at that number from the end user standpoint of when they call 911. Their clock is starting. So it feels like it’s a lot more.”

Regarding ambulance patient offload times, SHFAD averaged about four minutes for patient offload times at Samaritan in Lebanon and almost four minutes at Good Samaritan Hospital. St. Charles Bend was identified as an outlier due to a data entry error.

In addition to reviewing operational statistics, Tyler highlighted recent incidents, including brush fires and house fires, underscoring the proactive efforts of SHFAD personnel in safeguarding the community. SHFAD personnel were commended for their swift and effective response in preventing further damage.

“As much as I want to get rid of that brush rake and put them in an SUV and make them be command officers, they are doing great work in the community,” Tyler praised the dedicated efforts of SHFAD responders.

Tyler proposed the approval of the budget calendar for the upcoming fiscal year, signaling the commencement of budget planning activities within the district.

Tyler emphasized the importance of timely approval, stating, “We’re already into that season.” As discussions ensued regarding the verification of dates, Tyler assured the board that once approved, necessary steps would be taken promptly.

SHFAD will hold their budget committee meeting on May 21, 2024 where they will elect a presiding officer with a presentation of the budget for approval by Tyler. They will consider recommendations from citizens at that time.

Following a brief confirmation of dates regarding other items on the budget agenda, a motion was made and seconded to approve the 2024-2025 calendar, signaling progress in the budget planning process within SHFAD.

Tyler provided updates on various administrative matters, including progress on paperwork filing for the district’s bond. Tyler confirmed the official bond measure number, indicating that the necessary documentation had been filed with the county and was now available on the district’s website.

Transitioning to other administrative tasks, Tyler informed the board about the creation of press releases pertaining to upcoming discussions and initiatives. “I have three or four created. I want to go back through and look at it before I give you just kind of a press release from a global more isolated standpoint like this is what we’re going to talk about, this is what we’re going to talk about kinda thing,” Tyler said when speaking about how they would handle the distribution of information going forward.

Tyler provided an overview of the Exempt Non-Representative Employee Compensation Guide, explaining its significance in managing wages and benefits for employees not covered by union contracts.

“This goes back to about a year ago when we created this because we really had no way of capturing wages vacation, all that stuff besides the union contract,” Tyler elaborated.

He told board members that while there were minimal changes to the guide, adjustments were made to align with the union’s wage increases. Additionally, Tyler discussed updates related to specific positions within the district, including the BCS (Brush Crew Supervisor) and assistant to the chief, ensuring that adjustments were made in accordance with contractual obligations to maintain competitiveness in employee compensation. The board subsequently moved to approve the Representative Boyd compensation guideline with all members in favor.

Additionally, it was reported the shop building was completed with a few minor items needing to be completed. Station 22 was reported to be nearly finished, with custom signs being the only outstanding items. These signs, one backlit with the station number and the other illuminated from above with the district’s name, are set to be installed in the coming week. While a minor issue with paint on the main doors was noted, it was promptly addressed by contractors, ensuring the project remains on track and within budget. However, concerns were raised regarding equipment storage during construction, as neighboring property owners expressed grievances about potential easement violations.

It was also reported that LifeFlight conducted a training drill on March 7.  Despite a slight communication hiccup resulting in two visits that day, the drill proceeded smoothly. LifeFlight conducted a practice run, landing at the Fortnight complex before returning to SHFAD’s facility for further training.

Notably, LifeFlight praised the landing zone and their ability to navigate the training without issue.

“They spoke very highly of the designated zone; they said they can see it from the air. There were no weird thermals like he gets sometimes, the windsock was very visual. So for them to land by themselves in the middle of the day with businesses opened, that’s a good thing,” said Tyler.

The training included best practices for hot loading patients, with participants expressing gratitude for the opportunity. It was confirmed that LifeFlight will return for additional training in a few months. Additionally, SHFAD completed pediatric advanced life support training, with commendations extended to the team for their successful completion.

An update was provided for February training.  Highlighted was the extensive training efforts undertaken by the district, including achieving 146 man-hours per shift for online drills, surpassing the target of 31 hours. Notably, outstanding training amounted to 48 hours, with additional fire drills accounting for 40 hours. Total hours of training for February tallied a total of 399.5 hours.

Tyler expressed satisfaction with the training outcomes, emphasizing the importance of preparedness, particularly given the district’s busy month, which saw an average of nine and a half calls per day. He commended the crews for their dedication to both emergency response and training, ensuring the community’s safety.

“We just had a very busy month with an average of nine and a half calls per day. Crews are doing good work both in theory and in training. It’s important to recognize that,” said Tyler.

Also announced was that Lebanon Fire District is going to be hosting the Young Women’s Fire Academy again this year in June. The program which is for 14 to 17 year old girls interested in the fire services, this will be their fifth year offering the academy.

The academy will be held in their new training facility. It will consist of all female firefighters from around the valley.

Discussions also encompassed recruitment efforts, grant applications, and policy amendments.

The next board meeting will be held on April 16, 2024 at 7 p.m.