Cooley Dickinson Hospital ER
Overwhelming police presence and a rare temporary increase in staffing at AFD managed to keep a lid on the routine end-of-semester party itch combined with sunny spring weather, and a dance concert at the Mullins Center Saturday night of the same genre that the week before produced 24 calls for help with 14 of those requiring ambulance runs to the Cooley Dickinson Hospital for drug or alcohol overdose.
This time the concert produced "only" 14 calls for help with four requiring emergency transport by AFD and one additional alcohol overdose handled by privately contracted Westfield Fire Department ambulance. A good thing since the ER at Cooley Dickinson was busy enough as it was and ten more OD cases could have overwhelmed the system.
Interestingly, with as many as 17 firefighter/EMT professionals on duty Saturday (more than twice the usual), the emergency traffic was such that all the extra help was kept busy. Perhaps why Northampton, our sister city to the west, has roughly that number of firefighter/EMTs assigned all of the time.
Northampton maintains a ration of 2.1 firefighters per 1,000 population vs. Amherst with only 1.1 firefighters per thousand.
On Wednesday night Town Manager John Musante seemed to indicate to Amherst Town Meeting that (after almost ten years) Amherst may increase the current dangerously low minimum AFD staffing level of seven. About time.
And reducing time--getting to the patient, then getting them to the hospital--is what it's all about .