La Crosse fire chief’s annual report cites higher volume, no civilian casualties
Cardiac arrest survival rates also are far above national averages, Ken Gilliam notes
LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — La Crosse Fire Chief Ken Gilliam’s Annual Community Report for 2019 reflects optimism, even as he acknowledges that 2020’s continuing COVID-19 curse presents whole new challenges.
Among the highlights of the year were responding to an increased annual volume totaling more than 6,800 incidents, recording no civilian fire casualties in 2019 and achieving cardiac arrest survival rates far above national averages, Gilliam wrote.
“While the future is always uncertain, my taking this opportunity to look backwards has provided me comfort in knowing that the dedicated men and women of the La Crosse Fire Department will undoubtedly continue to rise to the occasion, no matter what crisis is thrown at them as public servants,” Gilliam wrote in his opening letter.
One of the department’s major focuses in 2019 was completing the final steps of the re-accreditation process, he wrote.
Another accomplishment was presenting the 2019-2023 Strategic Plan and updated Standards of Cover to the community, he said.
“Throughout 2019 and moving into 2020, we completed the final steps of a two-year organizational realignment that I believe provides us with a broader capacity for more consistent management, personnel accountability, ongoing leadership development, and expansion of our ‘all-hazards’ response capabilities,” Gilliam wrote in the 32-page report.
The chief also lists what he said are among the department’s key accomplishments last year, including:
• Members completed more than 30,000 hours of training time, including company officer, driver/operator and firefighter training and certification requirements.
• Responded to an increased annual incident volume totaling more than 6,800 incidents.
• Experienced no civilian fire casualties in 2019.
• Realized cardiac arrest survival rates that far exceed national averages.
• Expanded and strengthened the department’s Paramedic First Response program.
• Created an EMS coordinator position through assignment to existing staff.
• Expanded the Community Risk Management Division to include two new code enforcement technician positions and a new community risk educator position.
• Concluded negotiations with the town of Medary on a 30-year contract for fire and EMS service coverage for the town.
• Strengthened protection plans for existing service areas on French Island.
• Began providing continuous aircraft rescue and firefighting staffing at the La Crosse Regional Airport.
• Completed transition to new self-contained breathing apparatus.
• Completed projects on personnel crisis information collection for all members and line-of-duty-fatality plans.
Strengthened mutual-aid relationships and the statewide Mutual-Aid Box Alarm System plans.
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