LA firefighters slowing down due to budget cuts
When someone started abruptly knocking at her front door, Yvonne Camacho jolted out of her bed and ran through two rooms to answer. It was her neighbor, yelling “Call 911!” As Camacho walked forward, she could see part of her neighbor’s home in flames. Soon, her cell phone was in her hand, and an emergency service was on the line. As Camacho gave the dispatcher her address, the dispatcher needed more directions. “Cross streets weren’t enough for her,” Camacho said. “I was in a panic, I couldn’t think straight enough to sit there and give her step-by-step directions to my home. We were talking for nearly five minutes when all I could think of is ‘don’t you have some sort of navigation or tracking device— why aren’t you here yet?’ I was extremely frustrated.”
It was 15 minutes before the firefighters finally arrived. The fire was partially extinguished, but by then the fire had begun to spread towards the second half of the house.
What was wrong with the dispatch system? Why did they need such precise directions? And could they have been quicker on the scene? If they had arrived sooner, much less of the home would have been lost.
Camacho made this call on March 4, 25 miles east of Santa Monica. However, similar incidents seem to be popping up all over Los Angeles.
According to the Los Angeles Times, just a few days later on March 7, a woman waited nearly 45 minutes for Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics to arrive after a machine had sliced off her finger and mangled the rest of her hand.
Firefighters said the alarms never rang
at the firehouse just a mile away from the injured woman. In the end, so much time was lost that the woman’s finger could not be reattached.
Officials claim that aging equipment is to blame for frequent technical and dispatch failures. But they don’t seem to be doing much about it. These so-called routine repairs can take months to fix because of a smaller maintenance crew, downsized due to the budget cuts. Because there are fewer fire fighters now, they are forced to travel miles across cities to respond to emergencies. This delays critical help, and produces more fatigued firefighters.
There seems to be more than just one issue. It’s not just the dispatch system, the lack of fire fighters, the lack of a maintenance crew, or even the huge budget cuts carrying all the blame. The delayed response time seems to be the ultimate result of all of those issues combined, causing a disastrous effect on the city of Los Angeles and all of its surrounding communities.
Los Angeles cannot afford LAFD budget cuts. Angelenos are the ones who suffer with every delayed reaction.
And if a massive fire were to strike Los Angeles County without a capable fire department to control it, where would the city be then?