Soaring fuel prices are forcing some emergency responders to cut services

Skyrocketing fuel prices have forced some emergency service providers to find ways to cut costs, including not sending first responders to non-emergency calls, reducing other operations and reevaluating emergency plans. purchase of new equipment.

Wednesday, the average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline in the United States was $5.01, well above the average of $3.07 at the same time last year, according to AAA.

The rise comes as the nation the rate of inflation has accelerated further in May, with prices up 8.6% from a year ago for the biggest increase since December 1981, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Like many Americans, agencies that provide emergency services have not been exempt from the pressure of skyrocketing costs.

Scott Matice, captain of the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office in Michigan, said deputies would not immediately respond to non-emergency calls and would reduce patrols to save gas.

“We asked our officers not to idle their vehicles and to control stationary traffic rather than patrolling and driving around trying to find violations,” he said.

Matice said calls for which evidence collection is not required will be taken over the phone and further fuel increases may require the department to limit vehicle mileage.

“We want officers to be smarter in their patrol but still visible,” Matice said.

In Indiana, the Honey Creek Fire Department will limit building inspections, use smaller vehicles more frequently and won’t allow firefighters to travel to training classes to save on fuel costs, the chief says. Thomas High. He said his department has taken 960 calls this year, but expects it will receive more than 2,000.

Gasoline prices are skyrocketing for a number of reasons, including more motorists hitting the road to kick off the summer.

Additionally, many Western countries failed to buy oil from Russia, a global oil producer, following its invasion of Ukraine.

In Colorado, John Frank, fleet manager for South Metro Fire Rescue, said he plans to offset gas costs by having staff maintain and repair their own vehicles instead of outsourcing the work. Nor will the ministry modernize its fleet.

“It’s important to understand that fuel is always your biggest cost. This is something we monitor very regularly,” Frank said, adding that the ministry does not have a contract with a fuel supplier to supplement gas prices.

Cabell County, West Virginia Sheriff Chuck Zerkle fears rising gas prices will put his department over its fuel budget and force him to siphon money from somewhere else.

“If I can’t get relief, I’ll have to start cutting equipment,” Zerkle said, adding that his department won’t buy at least six new cruisers at $50,000 each.

MPs could also stop answering non-life-threatening 911 calls, he said, but noted that would be a last resort if gas prices rose further and more funds could not. be allocated by the county government.

“The public is expecting to make a call and someone is coming,” the sheriff said. “They want to see you on the road being visible and deterring crime. People expect us to be there, and we’re going to be there for them.

Other emergency response agencies have also said they will have to find a way to continue normal operations as fuel prices rise.

“We’re not really in a business where we can cut services,” said Greg Porter, assistant director from the Ross/West View Emergency Medical Services Authority in Pittsburgh. He predicted the authority will exceed this year’s fuel budget by at least $30,000 and said vehicles will now operate for shorter periods.

“If people call 911, we have to go. It’s just the nature of the business,” Porter said, adding that inflation has also driven up the costs of their medical and cleaning supplies.

Edward N. Arrington