Fire departments look to grow to keep up with medical runs

JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. - The growing senior population is flooding medical calls into Central Indiana fire departments and now some station are looking to expand to keep up.

In a medical emergency, every second matters. That puts pressure on White River Township Fire's emergency responders who have two ambulances and 26 square miles to cover.

"This fire department needs to keep pace with the growth of this community," said Fire Chief Jeremy Pell.

The numbers tell the story.

In 2012, WRTF responded to 2,558 calls. This year, they're on pace to hit 3,500 calls. Pell said the biggest portion of the calls are medical emergencies. And the biggest group calling are seniors.

"We have an aging population," said Pell. "We’re the first line of defense."

That's why Pell is looking at adding another ambulance to the mix. He already has the vehicle, he just needs the full-time staff.

“We could use one immediately.”

Bargersville Fire Department is also growing.

With the aging population comes more medical calls, more conditions that we have to respond to," said Chief Jason Ramey.

They are one step away from putting a second ambulance in service on a part time basis.

"We’re tying to baby step into this, but not to the rate that we stay behind growth too far," explained Ramey.

Chief Pell still has to find the money and get approval from county leaders. He hopes he'll have a third ambulance within the next three years.

"It is inevitable," he said. "It is merely a function of whether we get ahead of it or we wait till it’s in crisis mode.”