Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Aaron Pribyl presented PBCFR’s annual report to the Wellington Village Council on Tuesday, March 14.
In the last four years, the total number of calls for service has gone up 20 percent, but after going up for two years, response time decreased last fiscal year.
“It might be the case of we’re coming off the tail end of COVID-19, and we know how much COVID-19 taxed systems,” Pribyl said. “That might be one of these cases, but either way, it’s in a positive mode.”
In fiscal year 2021, there were 5,791 calls, which rose to 6,209 in fiscal year 2022. It took an average of 6 minutes, 54 seconds to respond in fiscal year 2021, but dipped below 6 minutes, 50 seconds in fiscal year 2022.
Seventy-four percent of calls were medical calls, totaling 4,625 incidents. After that, 714 incidents were alarms, 362 were vehicle accidents, 299 were assists/investigations, 120 were fires, 54 were hazardous situations, 19 were interfacility transports, 13 were other and three were water-related incidents.
The four Wellington PBCFR stations — Station 20, Station 25, Station 27 and Station 30 — are fully staffed, Pribyl said, and three of them have four-wheel-drive brush trucks. Command staff comes from Station 28 in Royal Palm Beach.
“Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue is all-hazard,” Pribyl said. “We are able to supply all these different resources that might be unique. Because of the size, we have the resources at our disposal.”
There is aircraft rescue and firefighting, as well as Trauma Hawk’s air rescue service. The department has a hazardous materials response team, as well as large animal rescue, both of which are relevant to Wellington.
“Medical services have increased,” Pribyl said. “We have innovative programs.”
One such program is the ET3 — the Emergency Triage, Treatment and Transport model — where special care may be needed, allowing patients to be brought to the right place.
The agency also has units on the road able to provide whole blood transfusions.
“That’s such a big deal because a lot of times in trauma-type calls, there are two things that we can fix — stopping the bleeding, and then providing more of that fluid, or blood, to be able to keep someone alive,” Pribyl said. “This is one of those things that really is a milestone for our agency to be able to provide that to the public.”
Countywide, Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue has been above the state’s average for cardiac arrest cases that regain a heartbeat and are later discharged from the hospital alive.
Over the course of the year, medical services had 3,239 patients transported in Wellington, 121 trauma alerts in Wellington, 30 sepsis alerts in Wellington, 51 stroke alerts in Wellington and 18 STEMI alerts in Wellington.
There were 362 vehicle accidents in Wellington during fiscal year 2022. On the map, many accidents happened on the State Road 7 corridor, but also roads internal to Wellington, such as Forest Hill Blvd., Greenview Shores Blvd. and Wellington Trace.
In fiscal year 2022, crews were dispatched to 120 fires. Within 5 to 7 minutes, he said, there will be 20 firefighters on the scene.
“And that’s on the first alarm,” Pribyl said.
Afterward, other resources are on their way.
“We have a lot to be able to be offered,” he added.
PBCFR takes part in many events within Wellington, including A Day for Autism, the Pinewood Derby, the End of Summer Party in the Park, a hurricane presentation and the annual 9/11 memorial, as well as events for Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
Pribyl noted that the department has a new apparatus — the Mobile Command Unit — which is a vehicle that responds to large-scale emergency incidents or special events. The 45-foot vehicle is one of the largest they have, and features workstations, a conference room, and can be stationed near a crisis or natural disaster.
The department also has a new aerial truck, located at Station 29, with a platform that can lift 1,300 pounds of equipment and personnel more than 100 feet above the ground.
Fires have likely decreased in Wellington, Pribyl said, due to the Community Risk Reduction Division that focuses on community education, the Drowning Prevention Coalition, existing inspections, investigations, and plan review on new construction. The program has 11,248 participants, and there were 64 activities in Wellington.
PBCFR shares information with the community through its Public Information Office and Media Services.
With more than 31,000 Facebook followers, more than 17,000 Twitter followers and more than 14,000 Instagram followers, PBCFR is able to share important information quickly. The accounts can be followed at @PBCFireRescue.
“We’re very happy to be able to be here. I’m very happy to be able to live here, and to be able to provide the services that we do,” Pribyl said as he concluded his presentation.
Mayor Anne Gerwig noted that council members were recently able to take part in a firefighter training simulation.
“It was amazing to see this hands-on. What you talked about in here, we saw. It’s unbelievable the amount of medicine you’re bringing to the scene instead of waiting. Because the outcome is just so much better when it’s immediate, it’s just amazing. I know we were all super impressed,” Gerwig said. “I can’t think of a criticism to offer in any way, shape or form. It’s an amazing department.”