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Local First Responders Not Meeting Response Time Goals
A fire doubles in size every minute, brain death from lack of oxygen can occur in about six minutes -- if there's an emergency in your home, will first responders get there in time?
The area covered by Travis County ESD No. 2, including parts of Pflugerville, Round Rock and North Austin is below the national standard for emergency response time. The national average response time is six and a half minutes for urban areas, Travis County ESD No. 2 arrives later than that to calls almost half of the time.
Kevin Croegaert, the assistant chief of operations, says, "As an overall percentage we only meet those goals 56 percent of the time, which means 44 percent of the time we're not."
Some areas are worse than others. For example, in the Wells Branch Parkway neighborhood emergency responders meet the standard time less than 50 percent of the time. Croegaert says it has to do with staffing and equipment and the money available to pay for it. He says people need to know there is an issue with response time because, "they just assume when you dial 911 that someone is going to come rapidly and fix your problem and in some areas and some instances that's just not realistic."
So what's the solution? The Pflugerville Fire Association is asking to create a new district that is geographically identical to an existing district, also known as an overlay district. It means tax rates could go up ten cents per $100 of property value. Croegaert says, "We think we do a really good job managing the taxpayers' fire department, and this is their fire department, but with the limited amount of money that we have there are going to be gaps."
He said it's ultimately up to the citizens to decide whether they want to fill in those gaps.
By Lydia Pantazes