Niceville’s Fire Department Union will have a new contract – and the wait times to get an advanced life-saving care during the busiest months of the year will reduce if all goes well in the next couple of months. Niceville’s Fire Chief and Police Chief reported on all of the goings-on concerning their departments. Here are the highlights:
You read that right – during the one hundred days of summer Niceville residents can wait about 45 minutes after dialing 9-1-1 for an ambulance to take them to the hospital. This claim comes from Niceville Fire Chief Tommy Mayville, who hopes to do something about that long wait in the summer. “There’s only so many ambulances in our area,” Mayville told the city council. Mayville says help is on the way, though. His department recently graduated two new paramedics at Northwest Florida State College and has more student firefighters in the pipeline to assist residents and get them the help they need faster. “It’s vital we have that level of care on scene for a patient,” Mayville added.
Mayville made this report to the Niceville City Council at their September meeting. He thanked the council for supporting the initiative and told them they could see the fruits of their investments soon now that the city has its newest paramedics in rotation.
Currently, many of the firefighters at Niceville Fire Department are certified EMTs. The EMT certification means they can do minimal lifesaving medical procedures, like CPR – but cannot ‘push drugs’ or administer lifesaving medicines in the field. By receiving their Paramedic certification from Northwest Florida State College – the trained firefighters will be able to use more lifesaving medication and techniques to keep Niceville residents in need alive before they are taken to the hospital.
Mayville hopes to have six paramedics on staff once the department is up to speed.
According to data provided by the Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners, which oversees Okaloosa County’s EMS programs, the response times in urban areas across the county are lower than eight minutes on average.
The chart provided shows at the average daily response time recorded by the Okaloosa EMS for May through September of this year.
The Fire Department has the only unionized workers in the city. Firefighters are union members – and their contract is up for negotiation this month as it expires on October 1, 2023.
Luckily for Niceville residents, the negotiations between the city and the union seem less acrimonious than those between the Union of Auto Workers or the Screen Writer’s Guild of America and their management.
“I think we made very good headway,” City Manager David Deitch told the council, “We don’t want to go over the October deadline, but thus far, (the meetings) have been productive, they’ve been professional and I think we will have it done before the October 1 expiration of the contract.”
Niceville Police made the most arrests in a single month since January 2022 in August. The department totaled 37 arrests, including 17 misdemeanors, 19 felonies and one DUI. The number of arrests made by the department has steadily trended downward every month since December 2022. The department received 3,481 calls for service from the public – a continuation of the slight upward trend seen this summer.
Finally, the Niceville Fire Department recorded five uses of Narcan to counteract the life-threatening effects of opioids like heroin and fentanyl. All five patients in the fire department’s care survived.
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