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Firefighters hone skills at fire school


GREENPORT–The Columbia County Fire Service, in conjunction with the County Fire Coordinator’s Office and the state Office of Homeland Security, recently released the following list of fire school courses and attendees:

*Apparatus Operator Pump was held at Valatie Fire Department. Instructors were Melissa Eigenbrodt, Joseph Laviano and Bud Godfroy–Samual Becker, Anthony Buono, Nick Buffa, John Carroll, Rustin Dolan, Tab Eigenbrodt, Matthew Fischer, James Hogencamp, Karen Loeffler, Joseph Loeffler, James Schermerhorn.

*Mellenville Fire Department hosted a Haz Mat First Responders Operations course taught by Mr. Godfroy–Gennea Austin, James Brady, Isaac Bogucki,

David Gambacorta, Chad Hawver, Jeffrey Hughes, Barbara Motyl, Matthew Oatley, Thomas Rector, Donald Sartori, Robert Speed, John VanAlphen III, Scott Wickwire.

*Valatie Fire and Laviano also worked on Basic Structural Collapse operations–Anthony Bashford, Samuel Becker, Frank Bevens, Phillip Bickerton, Melissa Eigenbrodt, Tab Eigenbrodt, Walter Engel, Matthew Fischer, John Hoyt, Karen Loeffler, Joseph Loeffler, Michael Maguire, Phillip Martel, John Matthews, Josef Ortiz, Zach Usyk, Rustin Dolan, Dan VanAllen.

*Germantown Fire Company sponsored a Confined Space Safety Awareness course taught by Mr. Godfroy–James Acker II, Jesse Bender, Collin Brown, Stephen Cox, Pat Ebling, Richard Jennings, Markos Larabee, Michael Lawson, Douglas Pearson, Joshua Schuster, George Sharpe Jr., Aaron Sweet, Kenneth VanWagner.

*Copake Fire Company and Wayne Gearing took on a Principles of Instruction–Jeremy Cromie, Richard DeGroff, Michael Edge, Judy Gawron, Chad Hawver, James Jensen, Phillip Kenny, Michael LaForge, Jason Mato, Dale Roberts, Dane Shadic and John VanAlphen.


County 911 busier than ever before

GREENPORT–2011 was the busiest year ever for the Columbia County 911 Department. Nearly 59,000 calls for service were answered resulting in over 40,000 dispatches.

The 911 communications department continues to see a rise in the number of cellular 911 calls they receive. “Our cell calls were up almost 18% over last year. With so many cell phones out there now, a simple car accident can result in 5 or 6 phone calls,” 911 Director Robert Lopez said in a press release.

But cellular 911 isn’t the only area where the department saw increases.  Dispatched incidents were up almost 10% over last year as well. Columbia 911 is responsible for dispatching all fire, emergency medical service (EMS) and emergency police activity in the county. Last year, the department processed 4,109 fire dispatches, 12,107 EMS or ambulance dispatches, 14,754 police dispatches, and an additional 6,128 dispatches to other government agencies and utility companies.

Columbia 911 maintains minimum staffing of two dispatchers at night and 3 during the day. All Columbia 911 dispatchers are certified Advanced Emergency Medical Dispatchers.  This advanced certification allows the dispatchers to provide enhanced care, such as aspirin therapy to chest pain patients, that other dispatcher centers may not. Dispatchers provide CPR, choking, child birth, hemorrhage control and other life-saving instruction when needed. All Columbia 911 dispatchers are trained at the Advanced Law Enforcement Dispatch level and are required to complete 21 hours of continuing education each year.

Noting his pride in his staff, Director Lopez said in the release, “People sometimes take 911 dispatchers for granted because they aren’t out there with the flashing lights and TV cameras. But it’s an important job and we’re fortunate to have the talent we do.  Last year, we answered almost 98% of all 911 calls in less than 10 seconds.  You’re not going to get much better than that.”

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