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2019 was another record year of emergency calls for the Crawfordsville Fire/EMS Department, fueled by an ongoing rise in ambulance runs.
The department responded to 4,306 calls last year, a 10 percent increase from 2018 when personnel answered 3,909 calls. Crews took 3,831 runs in 2017.
The steady increase, which reflects a nationwide trend, is mostly attributed to an aging population, Crawfordsville fire chief Scott Busenbark said. The most frequent medical calls are for falls.
“Twenty years ago, I don’t recall anything like we’re seeing now,” Busenbark said.
The Community Paramedicine Program’s Quick Response Team, which helps victims of falls address potential home safety issues, has reduced the number of repeat patients.
But nationwide, requests for ambulances are climbing as the number of fire calls go down.
There were nearly 23.6 million medical calls in 2018, compared to just 1.3 million fire calls, according to data from the National Fire Protection Association.
Ambulance runs have surged more than 49% nationwide in the past decade, while total calls have climbed 45.5% over the same period.
On average, Crawfordsville receives up to 15 daily calls between both stations.
The increasing volume of calls means the department has to pay more for fuel, manage vehicle maintenance and juggle training schedules around runs.
The fuel budget was $33,500 in 2019, and funds had to be transferred before year’s end, Busenbark said.
With the city council’s approval, ambulances get replaced every year and are rotated between the stations to reduce wear-and-tear.
Outside the city limits, the 50-member department responds to calls in North and South Union Townships and provides ambulance service to Brown, Franklin and Sugar Creek Townships. There are currently two staff openings.
The department received praise from Mayor Todd Barton in last week’s State of the City address, where he addressed the increasing trend of calls.
“They continue to find innovative ways to further improve their skills and are regarded as some of the best in the state of Indiana,” Barton said.