PBCFR: RPB Breaks 5,000 Emergency Requests For Service

Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue District Chief Amanda Vomero addresses the Royal Palm Beach Village Council.

The Village of Royal Palm Beach contracts with Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue to provide a range of fire-rescue services in the community. PBCFR District Chief Amanda Vomero provided an annual report, briefing the Royal Palm Beach Village Council on Thursday, June 20 regarding the 5,050 emergency calls her agency handled last year within the village, plus other services they provide, like public education and provision of smoke detectors. The village leadership’s response was unanimously favorable.

The annual report covers October 2022 through September 2023. Among the more than 5,000 calls for emergency assistance, 3,881 were medical-related requests for assistance, 420 were alarm calls, 408 were vehicle accidents and 90 were fires. This averages to about 14 emergency calls each day within Royal Palm Beach.

This is the first time that the village exceeded 5,000 calls for service. Even though total calls have increased by almost 600 calls per year since 2021, response times have been consistent, at an average of six minutes, 20 seconds. This compares favorably with the six minutes, 50 seconds that PBCFR averages countywide across a total of about 154,000 calls a year.

The agency surveys the citizens they help via emergency response, and last year Royal Palm Beach residents affirmed an excellent level of service with a 99.1 percent overall satisfaction rate.

The village boasts two stations, Station 28 and Station 29. Beside the additional resources that PBCFR is able to bring in from surrounding areas, permanently stationed within the village are about 15 fire-rescue professionals, boasting eight rescue vehicles and fire trucks, including an engine with a 100-foot ladder.

“We don’t talk about fire-rescue much,” Mayor Fred Pinto said. “We take them for granted because they are doing such a good job.”

But it’s not an easy job. Vomero is a western communities resident and a mother of three, including a teen driver.

“We see a lot of accidents with casualties. I can’t help but think my children are out driving among people who aren’t very careful,” Vomero said, urging all drivers to put a focus on safety. “Most of the accidents we see are fully preventable. We urge folks to just take a little extra time and be careful.”

She called attention to one unusual incident in Royal Palm Beach last year. A patient at Palms West Hospital walked across Crestwood Blvd. to the Publix parking lot, where they stole a car, which they then drove recklessly through the village. The driver may have exceeded 100 mph as the car navigated 25 mph Ponce De Leon Street in the La Mancha neighborhood.

In the end, three people were seriously hurt, and the driver was killed. A fuel leak, the residential location and the immediate chaos after the crash challenged first responders, making it one of the agency’s most difficult cases.

“While there’s always friendly rivalry,” Vomero said, “we worked seamlessly with our partners from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office on this and many other challenging incidents.”

Vomero explained that PBCFR is an “all-hazards” department that boasts rescue watercraft, Trauma Hawk air rescue, hazardous materials response teams, dive rescue, large animal rescue and explosive ordinance disposal.

She also briefed the council on a number of awards that PBCFR has won. The National Association of Counties recently selected PBCFR as the winner of its 2023 Achievement Award.

Councilwoman Selena Samios congratulated the department on its successes. “We are very impressed by all the awards, and especially with the whole blood transfusion program, which is saving lives,” Samios said.

PBCFR is one of the few agencies nationwide capable of delivering this advanced level of service. Research shows that two critical actions can improve the survival odds of a bleeding trauma patient. First, stop the bleeding. Second, replace lost whole blood. The department has taken a national leadership role on this issue, and recently published a white paper in the National Library of Medicine, providing important information and lessons learned to first responders around the world.

Emergency response is not the only way that Vomero’s department saves lives. PBCFR places emphasis on prevention. She described a fire earlier this year in an older Royal Palm Beach quadraplex. A small fire broke out in an end unit. All four units shared a common attic, allowing the fire to easily spread. Fire investigators later learned there wasn’t a single smoke detector among all four of the residences.

“There could have been multiple casualties if this fire had occurred in the middle of the night,” Vomero said. “Since residents of the complex fit low-income criteria, the good news is that the department was able to provide 110 smoke detectors to residents in that complex alone.”

Overall, the report was very well received by the council.

“Chief, I just want to thank you for all that you do for the village,” Councilman Richard Valuntas said. “One of the folks you saved last year is a Palm Beach deputy and my next-door neighbor, who had a serious medical incident. PBCFR saved his life. Good job to you and your team.”