Chaotic Night For Emergency Workers On Friday With Three Fires and False Gunshot Call Within An Hour
Darren Doyle, firstname.lastname@example.org, story and photo:
Local firefighters, paramedics, first responders, law enforcement officers, and county dispatch personnel were doing all they could do to keep up with the emergency calls that were coming in on Friday night, some at the same time.
What made things worse was that local law enforcement have been without their own radio frequency on and off for several weeks, even months, due to problems with the local radio system. This forced law enforcement to use the fire emergency frequency on Friday during the calls and everyone was talking over one another, at least for a short amount of time.
The first call came in around 8:40pm on Friday, July 21, 2017 where local dispatch said a female caller on Morgantown Road reported that she had been shot in the back of the head.
All first responders on the north side of the county were dispatched to the location in addition to paramedics and law enforcement. In calls like this, it's common for every law enforcement officer in the area, whether on duty or not, to respond to the scene due to the potential danger posed and the unknowns.
While en route, local dispatch reported that according to paramedics on scene, there was no gunshot and that the caller was said to be under the influence of an unknown substance. The emergency was called off, but many first responders, deputies, officers, and the sheriff was either there or almost there.
Minutes after countywide response to that scene, another call came into local dispatch of a structure fire on Segal Road. Several fire departments were on their way to that scene, which was just down the road from the false gunshot; however, the Brownsville FD, on scene at the false gunshot, was not in a large fire truck, but in a smaller emergency vehicle. They had to travel back to the Brownsville Fire Station to switch trucks and gear and head back to the fire scene.
Just before all firefighters arrived on Segal Road, that fire was called off to any other fire units not already on scene as Bear Creek FD reported it was under control. After arriving on scene, we could see a charred mattress out in the yard of the home. According to reports on scene, a faulty extension cord sparked on the mattress causing a small burn and some smoke damage.
Approximately 30 minutes later, another call of a structure fire at an abandoned mobile home on Sandy Flat Road was transmitted from dispatch and both Kyrock and Brownsville FDs responded along with the sheriff's office. According to radio traffic, that fire was contained and firefighters cleared the scene; however, it's now heavily suspected that arson was involved as the structure burned to the ground on Sunday night.
Unbelievably, another call came into dispatch, this time from the same location of the earlier Segal Road fire, but unfortunately, the home was fully engulfed in flames. Dispatch reported that at this time, the fire supposedly started from the other end of the home. By the time firefighters returned, the structure was too far gone to save and firefighters worked to contain the blaze to the home only.
The Sheriff's Office said the Sandy Flat Road Fire is under investigation and no other details were currently available. No charges were filed against the female who reported the gunshot and no names were released. Law enforcement said since the gunshot report was canceled before officers arrived, there was no official criminal report filed and that it was instead a medical incident. Sheriff Shane Doyle said that it appeared the woman suffered from a combination of being under the influence of something and having some sort of emotional breakdown. She was taken to the hospital for treatment.
Sheriff Doyle said that while it's taxing to have all these calls come in at the same time in a small county, everyone did their job by the book.
"All of our local emergency workers did a great job responding to these calls as they always do," he said. "We have some of the best that you'll find anywhere."
Doyle said while it can be frustrating to respond to false alarms as in the case of the bogus gunshot, it's part of an emergency worker's job.
"We'd rather respond and not be needed than to be needed and not be able to respond," he said.
Doyle added that the cause of the local radio complications are in continued research, testing, and repair, and that local Emergency Management is working diligently with engineers from across the country to solve the issues. Doyle has regularly praised local director Pat Prunty for his effort in improving the occurring problems that are out of local personnel's hands.