Letter: Bristol needs a better Rescue system sooner than later

Posted 9/29/22

To the editor:Back in the spring I expressed my concerns in a letter to the editor regarding the low pay, personnel shortage, and reliance on mutual aid from surrounding towns regarding our fire …

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Letter: Bristol needs a better Rescue system sooner than later

Posted

To the editor:

Back in the spring I expressed my concerns in a letter to the editor regarding the low pay, personnel shortage, and reliance on mutual aid from surrounding towns regarding our fire department and rescue squad here in Bristol. After that letter was published, I spoke to a member of the rescue squad who informed me that the reliance on mutual aid and resulting slower response times were due to the fact that Bristol was short one ambulance while waiting for a new one to be delivered.

Fast forward to today, and it remains a regular occurrence for ambulances from Warren, Portsmouth, and other surrounding towns to respond to Bristol on a regular basis, sometimes multiple times per day, even though Bristol has had a full complement of ambulances at its disposal since the early summer.

When I was growing up in the 1960s and ’70s, the Bristol Fire Dept. and rescue squad were basically men’s social clubs, where members went to hang out, play cards, and occasionally respond to the rare fire or medical emergency in town. Medical skills and training were minimal, and residents only called the fire department for true fire and medical emergencies.

That has drastically changed today, as the fire department and rescue squad are made up of highly trained and skilled professionals who are exposed to communicable diseases, bloodborne pathogens, violent patients, and a host of other dangers, while responding to thousands of calls every year.

And while I want to make it abundantly clear that this lack of response and reliance on mutual aid from other towns is in no way a criticism of the dedicated individuals who comprise our fire department and rescue squad, what I find frightening is the lack of acknowledgement from any of our town leaders that we in fact do have a problem. It’s simply a numbers game, and the problem is the town does not have enough personnel to respond to the ever growing number of emergency calls, and it wouldn't matter if the town had a fleet of 20 ambulances at its disposal, as they are useless if there are no personnel to staff them.

And while I do not have a solution to this problem, I feel it’s only a matter of time before a tragedy occurs in Bristol due to a critically ill patient waiting far too long for an out of town ambulance, and that is when the town is going to find itself the target of a lawsuit. And while I hope that never happens, I also hope the town will take steps to address this issue before the inevitable tragedy and lawsuit do happen.

Mike Proto
245 Chestnut St.

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