Patterson Fire Department Part 10: Run Cards and Automatic Aid Agreements

Educational Series

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Since 2008, the IAFF Local 4577 members have advocated for agreements between our neighboring departments that would invite them automatically into the city limits to help us and invite us into their jurisdictions automatically to assist them. This model provides the highest level of safety for the communities we all serve to protect.

Run Cards

A “run card” is the term used to describe the resources that are automatically dispatched to a specific incident type. For example, in the City of Patterson, a run card for a medical aid will dispatch one engine, and a run card for a medical aid where CPR is in progress will dispatch two engines and a Division Chief. The purpose of a run card is to quickly, easily, and automatically get the proper, closest, and quickest resources to the scene of an emergency. This provides for citizen and firefighter safety.

Since 2008, the City of Patterson Fire Department has been “working on” the run cards with no large-scale changes being made. Just recently the run card for a working structure fire in the City of Patterson was updated to dispatch two City of Patterson apparatus, Cal-Fire (if staffed), West Stan Engine 50 (if staffed), City of Newman Engine (if staffed), Westley Rescue 53 (if staffed) and a Division Chief. As we covered in Part 7, a structure fire needs, at a minimum, three engines, a truck, and a Chief Officer at a structure fire. Currently, we have to manually order additional resources, which creates a delay. Having updated and accurate run cards would eliminate this delay.

A second alarm is used on run cards to dispatch additional resources quickly. Let’s imagine we have our three engines, a truck, and a Chief Officer on the scene of a working structure fire, but more resources are needed. The Chief Officer would just say to dispatch, “Start a second alarm” and would get additional engines or trucks to the scene. Right now, the City of Patterson’s second alarm is to start an engine from Crows Landing, which has zero volunteers and zero staffing. This renders the initial dispatch and the second alarm functions of our run cards ineffective.

Mutual Aid vs. Automatic Aid

Mutual aid is when a neighboring agency realizes that they need additional help and manually calls for another department to assist them with the incident. This creates a delay in response since the additional resources are not dispatched at the same time as the initial resources. This delay can take several minutes.

Automatic aid is when a run card is created that includes additional resources on the initial dispatch to an incident. This greatly reduces the delay in response, since all resources are dispatched at the beginning of the incident.

Interstate 5 (I-5)

There are approximately 12 miles of Interstate 5 between the Fink Road exit and the Ingram Creek/Westley exits. When an accident in this stretch of I-5 occurs West Stanislaus County Fire Protection District (WSCFPD) and CAL-Fire are the primary fire departments responsible for the incident. WSCFPD is strictly a volunteer agency, so once resources are dispatched, volunteers respond from home (if available) to the station, get in an apparatus, drive from Downtown Patterson to I-5 to the incident. CAL-Fire is staffed 9 months out of the year and will respond from their station on Sperry Avenue to the incident, if they are not at a wildland fire.

Patterson Fire Department Station 2, located 1.5 miles from the Sperry exit at 1950 Keystone Pacific Pkwy, can see I-5 from their station, is staffed 365 days a year with 3 personnel including one Paramedic, and is not dispatched to I5 incidents, unless requested by WSCFPD.

So, if a citizen of Patterson is traveling on I5 (as many of us do) and becomes involved in a vehicle accident 1 mile from the Sperry exit, and you or your family member are injured or dying, your City of Patterson Fire Department with Paramedic life saving abilities will be able to see the accident from the front of Station 2 while WSCFPD volunteers respond from their homes to the downtown fire station, get an apparatus, and drive 3 miles to the freeway with an unknown number of personnel with unknown EMS capabilities, due to political reasons.

Diablo Grande

Diablo Grande used to have a sleeper program run by the WSCFPD. WSCFPD provides the primary fire protection for the community of Diablo Grande. When the house across from the Diablo Grande Fire Station/shop that slept the participants was sold, the program was moved to Patterson.

This sleeper program was terminated and currently, the station only responds to incidents if available volunteers respond to the station and respond in apparatus. Patterson Fire Department Station 2 is on the run cards, as automatic aid, for potential structure fires and working structure fires to respond with the truck.

Due to the lack of volunteer response, the Patterson Fire Department has been responding as mutual aid to more incidents in Diablo Grande. We believe this is important for the safety of the citizens of Diablo Grande.

Rural Patterson

The citizens that live outside the city limits of Patterson are considered rural Patterson. They are provided fire protection from WSCFPD Station 50, which houses its equipment in the City of Patterson Fire Department Station 1, located in Downtown Patterson. This station is 100% volunteer and will only see a response to incidents if available volunteers respond. Staffing on the fire engine, water tender, or rescue will vary based on many factors. City of Patterson Fire Department career staff located at the same Downtown Patterson station can provide a quicker response to these rural areas of Patterson with Advanced Life Support, fire suppression, and vehicle extrication capabilities.

How do we move forward?

A complete audit of how to best protect all of the citizens of Patterson and rural Patterson. Citizens of Patterson drive on I-5, citizens of Patterson drive in rural Patterson, and have family in rural Patterson, but most importantly human life should be protected no matter where the tax revenue comes from. This includes a revamp of the City of Patterson Fire Department run cards to be updated and provide adequate resources on initial dispatch and looking at automatic aid agreements to assist in protecting the areas surrounding the City of Patterson.

It must be recognized that while a City of Patterson Fire Department crew is outside of the city limits whether it be I-5, Diablo Grande, or rural Patterson they will not be able to respond to calls for service in the city limits of Patterson. Our solution to that is to help mitigate the immediate life threat in these surrounding areas and then to turn the scene over to the agency responsible for primary fire protection as soon as possible so we can return to the City of Patterson. IAFF Local 4577 and its members feel strongly about protecting all life and providing the best service for all the citizens we can. All the surrounding departments supporting us and us supporting them is what is best for protecting all life.

Continue to Part 11: Summary of Points for the Citizens of Patterson


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