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Fire department review committee sets goals

BUCKEYE LAKE – A committee formed by Buckeye Lake Village Mayor Rick Baker to review and advise the Buckeye Lake Fire Department regarding its operations and procedures met Sunday, Sept. 23 to discuss direction and set goals.

“This committee has been really good,” said Buckeye Lake Mayor Rick Baker, a member of the committee that also includes Buckeye Lake resident and Columbus firefighter John Julian, Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason, resident Paul Clark, Lancaster Safety and Service Director Mike Courtney, Columbus firefighter Doug Sanderson, former Millersport Fire Chief and current Walnut Township Trustee Bill Yates, and Union Township Trustee Rick Black.

Baker formed the committee following an in-depth study by The Beacon revealing large gaps in the department’s part-time paid staffing schedule that affect response times.

The initial five-part series, which started August 18, focused on the department’s part-time paid personnel who are supposed to work three single-person daily shifts: 8 a.m to 8 p.m., 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.

After building a six-month database – March through August 2012 – based on work schedules and employee timecards, The Beacon learned:

• Fire Chief Pete Leindecker failed to schedule 17.2 percent of the shifts during the study period;

• Slightly more than onequarter of all shifts (25.9 percent) were unfilled (unscheduled shifts never filled plus no shows) during the six-month period;

• A six week study of response times on calls handled by Buckeye Lake found that when two-person crews were actually on-duty (supposed to be daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.), response times averaged four minutes, 50 seconds compared seven minutes, 48 seconds for a one-person crew; and

• During the six-month study period, a paramedic was on-duty for an average of 22.1 percent of the shifts. Lack of a paramedic severely limits treatment options, particularly for cardiac and serious injury calls.

Baker said one of the committee’s first goals is to review personnel certification, including that of Buckeye Lake Fire Chief Pete Leindecker.

“We want to check and make sure (Leindecker) has all of his certifications and that they are up to date so that he is able to be chief,” said Julian in a written report summarizing the Sunday meeting. “If he is not qualified we will need to determine who is able and willing to run the dept. We need to make sure everyone’s certifications are up to date (both fire and EMS) and that a copy for everyone is kept in the village office.”

Julian said in his report that Baker was going to call and set up a meeting to sit down and discuss some of the issues that have come up with Leindecker, if he is willing.

Julian said Mason knows Leindecker personally and would try to have a one on one with him to get his thoughts on things and to ensure that Leindecker knows the committee is trying help him if possible and/or correct any problems.

Julian said the committee needs to do some research on the protocol of when – how long before – mutual aid is sent when the Buckeye Lake department is unable respond with a fully manned truck. “As of right now, my understanding is mutual aid is not sent until after nine minutes have passed and no one or only EMTBs (EMT basics) are responding,” he said.

Baker said a village directive is for mutual aid to respond after three minutes.

“We are looking into grant money to get more recruits trained and certified in both fire and EMS,” said Julian, who added, “I will wait (until) I talk with (Mason) and see if and how his meeting went with (Leindecker) before we set up another meeting of our group.”

Wednesday, Mason said he had not met with Leindecker yet, but, “Hopefully we can get that accomplished within the next few days,” he said.

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