Taking away those that protect you…
Saturday, February 20, 2010
When you live in a community that’s adopted “Big Wild Life” as its slogan, you expect that people who live in it are going to have an attraction to the outdoors. Some people joke that part of Anchorage’s draw is that it’s close to the “Real Alaska,” but how many cities can boast that their residents can canoe, kayak, and raft in rivers and lakes, scale cliffs, climb mountains, and even kite-surf all within their city limits? And one of the best things about playing in our wild backyard was that the Anchorage Fire Department was available to help out, if our residents had an unfortunate accident. Unfortunately, this may not be the case in the not too distant future…
In an effort to save $150,000 the City has decided to eliminate certain aspects of some special rescue teams that were part of the Anchorage Fire Department. As part of this, there will no longer be a Backcountry Rescue Team to serve Flattop, Hillside trails, McHugh Creek, and Turnagain Arm trails. The Water Rescue Team has been downsized, and will no longer respond to distress calls in Cook Inlet, and depending on staffing, may not respond to calls during the winter months. There is no longer a Swift Water Rescue Team to service Eagle River or any other area rivers and streams. The staffing of the Hazardous Materials Response Team has been decreased, which will decrease response capabilities to incidents within the City, including the Anchorage Port, the Alaska Railroad, or Ted Stevens International Airport.
While the incidents that these teams respond to make up a small percentage of the Anchorage Fire Department’s total call volume, their specialized nature requires full staffing, proper equipment, and fully trained members. Without these specialized teams, both victims and first responders lives are placed at a higher risk.
Here are some recent stories about AFD’s special teams:
Do you see these teams everyday, no, but when they are called upon their rescue services save lives and are needed more than ever:
AFD’s Dive Rescue Team – Numbers Decreased
KTUU Dive Team (Ice) Story – These responder numbers will be decreased
KTUU Dive Team Story – These responder numbers will be decreased
KTUU Inlet Rescue Story – This service will be eliminated
AFD’s Backcountry Rescue Team – Eliminated
The 300,000 people who live, work, play, and travel through Anchorage on a daily basis deserve to have a Fire Department capable of providing adequate first response capabilities to all nature of incidents, regardless of where in the City they occur. That’s a big part of our Quality of Life.
You can read more about this within a recent KTVA story…AFD Cuts.