Hopkinsville Fire Department Chief Steve Futrell presented the quarterly fire and EMS report Thursday to the Hopkinsville Committee of the Whole.

Only around 4% of the department’s calls have been fire-related. That number matches the national average, according to Futrell.

But, over 59% of the calls have been rescue and emergency medical service related.

“Most of that is wrecks and assists with an ambulance, anything to that nature,” he said.

He added that the EMS run volume has grown from the beginning of the year.

“When COVID started, us, like most EMS services, we were just low,” he said. “EMS calls were low, the fire calls were low and in this (current) quarter, we saw that kind of get back up and even out and was even a little bit more … than last year.”

The department has had 242 emergency interfacility transfers, and 365 medical transports in the third quarter of the fiscal year.

But, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to longer run times for the fire and EMS departments.

“To date, since we started tracking numbers … we’ve transported 430 COVID patients on the ambulances,” Futrell said. “73 of those have been this month.”

He added that over the last five to six weeks, the department has seen a significant spike on call volume in both the fire and EMS departments.

“Last week alone, we transported 37 COVID patients,” he said. “We are starting to put our numbers out weekly because of the huge spike.”

He said that as of Thursday morning, the department had transported 34 COVID-19 patients this week alone.

“So, even though we had 37 last week, that number will be even more at the end of this week,” he said.

When Futrell left his office Thursday afternoon, the department was transporting COVID-positive patients to Louisville and Paducah.

“So, these numbers are increasing significantly,” he said.

He said that Hopkinsville Mayor Wendell Lynch and the city council has supported the departments throughout the pandemic.

“We have extra crews on to help with some of this run volume,” he said.

The EMS department’s average run volume in 2019 was 27 per day.

“Right now we’re at 35 a day,” he said. “And which some of these rides take two or three hours per run.”

Each COVID-19 run takes a substantial amount of time. The ambulance, each crew member and crew member clothing has to be sterilized after each run.

“That is to keep (from) cross contamination from patient to patient,” Futrell said. “And we have to do that fairly quickly because the ambulances have to get back on the road.”

Though the case load has gone up for the EMS department, Futrell said there have been no work-related COVID-19 positive tests to date.

“I feel that’s because we’re pretty stringent on how we do our PPE and how we (decontaminate) our people,” he said. “And as far as PPE, we’re probably better PPE stocked right now than we have been throughout this entire process.”

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