As chief of the Zachary Fire Department, it’s my responsibility to investigate any complaints made against the department, whose goal is to provide responsible and professional service to all Zachary residents while holding ourselves to a very high standard with pride, integrity and passion.
My letter is in response to a letter published in The Advocate by Zachary pastor Randy Perkins, who stated we took 35 minutes to respond to a medical call a half-mile from a fire station. If that were the case, it would be totally unacceptable.
After looking through many reports and talking to numerous department personnel, I located the call he referenced and called Mr. Perkins to discuss the department’s response activity regarding that incident. Unfortunately, he refused to provide any information.
On April 29 at 8:06 p.m., the department was notified of a medical call at 1896 Flonacher Road. Engine 823 was en route at 8:07, some 51 seconds after receiving the call. The truck arrived on scene at 8:10 p.m. with an actual response time of 3 minutes and 25 seconds and remained on scene until 8:41 p.m., when released by East Baton Rouge EMS.
In just over four minutes from receipt of the call, our crew was on the scene performing response duties, including patient care. The timing Mr. Perkins reported in his letter was grossly inaccurate and patently false. Our response times are carefully and accurately documented, deemed official and are automatically entered into reports from the EBR EMS’s Computer Aided Dispatch System. The Fire Department can neither enter nor change any of these automatically coded notifications, dispatch or response and arrival times. Our times are also carefully and regularly monitored by chief officers to help to ensure accurate and timely responses to calls within our community.
Upon further investigation, I spoke with relatives of the patient, who all stated and will state, the Fire Department crew did a “great job” with respect to the patient that day.
The letter’s headline, “Let’s Work Together to Make Things in Our Community Better,” invited experts to help correct problems with the way things are done, for example with the ZFD in this instance and asked local, state and federal government officials to fix, assign blame or ensure better patient care efforts by working together within the community. Sadly, the one official who could have helped Mr. Perkins the most — myself — wasn’t even notified. In fact, the article contained no factual information or evidence supporting the details Mr. Perkins alleged. As fire chief of Zachary, I’m extremely proud of our organization and of all its members. We go above and beyond the call of duty when serving the people of Zachary.
I’ve personally contacted all members of the Zachary Fire Department and apologized for the letter Mr. Perkins submitted to The Advocate. I sincerely hope he will do the same.
Zachary fire chief