The overall number of calls that Thompson Fire & Emergency Services (TFES) responded to in 2020 was up marginally from the previous year, thanks mainly to a four per cent increase in emergency medical services (EMS) calls.
"We had 6,881 EMS calls last year compared to 6,616 in 2019,” TFES Chief Selby Brown told Thompson’s recreation and community services committee at their Jan. 19 meeting.
That is the highest number of EMS calls the department has ever head and it was the fifth straight year that there were more than 6,000 EMS calls.
Fire calls, on the other hand, numbered 473 last year, down 264 from the highest ever total of 727 in 2019. With the exception of 2018 and 2019, fire calls have generally hovered from the mid-400s to mid-500s over the past 10 years.
Calls requiring response from multiple units have increased greatly over the past decade, reaching nearly 3,300 in 2020, the highest number ever. 2019 was the first year that the department had more than 3,000 multiple unit calls and there have only been over 2,000 twice before that, in 2016 and 2018.
“It goes up exponentially every year,” Brown told committee chair Coun. Braden McMurdo when asked if the increases were due to reclassification of incidents or just raw numbers.
“That’s a trajectory that we certainly need to jeep our eye on,” McMurdo said. “It’s hard to believe it’d be sustainable going in that direction.”
Coun. Kathy Valentino said the city should use the numbers to its advantage when trying to convince the province of the need for more health care services in Thompson and for funding for a new fire hall.
“As always they are rising so we need to use this document for the province,” she said.
“We’re basically using the same fire hall as in 1997 for triple the fire calls,” said Mayor Colleen Smook.
McMurdo said that the province doesn’t always agree with Thompson’s position as a regional hub but that it recognizes it as such when it has to, which led to the decision to establish a COVID-19 vaccination site here.
“Maybe now we can even leverage the fact that the Thompson Airport and the TRCC are being used as the Vaxport with the pandemic ,” said McMurdo.
City manager Anthony McInnis said the city would contact provincial ministers with data about EMS call volumes.
“The mayor and I actually discussed that yesterday,” he said. “Let’s get Vaxport up and running and then send those letters off.”