Emergency response fields 100 calls over holiday weekend


Busy 4th of July weekend in Florence

July 8, 2020 — The Fourth of July weekend proved to be a busy one for local first responders as the Florence Police Department, Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue and Western Lane Ambulance District answered dozens of calls over the weekend.

The recent guidance from Oregon Gov. Kate Brown regarding the mandate to wear masks in public, particularly when in crowds where physical distancing is difficult, did not deter holiday visitors from patronizing local restaurants, motels and businesses by the thousands. All three elements of the city’s emergency response teams were called on multiple occasions, mostly for minor issues.

However, there were some situations that were more serious, according to Florence Police Commander John Pitcher.

“It was a busy weekend for our 911 Center taking calls for Western Lane, Siuslaw Valley, Mapleton Fire, Swisshome/Deadwood Fire and Florence Police,” Pitcher said. “There were several accidents over the weekend in the area, along with several other medical calls. We normally get a lot of illegal fireworks calls, but looks like we had more than normal this year from both inside and outside of town.”

Police logs for the weekend show that there were at least five reports of illegal fireworks and a report of shots fired on Munsel Creek Loop this weekend.

There were also multiple reports of disputes and disorderly conduct, with some individuals cited for public intoxication.

In addition, there were a number of vehicular incidents, including a hit-and-run accident.

“For our officers it was a little busy, and there were a lot of people in town,” Pitcher said. “Officers responded to a range of calls — from suicidal subjects, hit and run, DUII, warrant arrests and more.”

Michael Schick, Fire and EMS Chief for the Western Lane Fire and EMS Authority also reported a busy weekend for both Siuslaw Valley and Western Lane crews over the weekend.

“It was an exceptionally busy holiday weekend for us. We responded to 54 combined incidents July 3 through July 5, with a peak of 24 incidents on the July 4,” Schick said. “Fortunately, there were no fires of note, with only an illegal burn and a fire alarm requiring a fire-only response.”

Some of the calls were more serious, including “high acuity medical calls ranging from a gunshot wound to a few ATV accidents,” the chief said. “Of course, we had our typical lift assists and ALS transports. The cooperation among the Western Lane and Siuslaw Valley crews was outstanding.”

Over the weekend, some calls received by the 911 dispatch had less to do with criminal activity but more with COVID-19. Primarily, callers were distressed by the number of visitors not wearing masks and the lack of physical distancing between shoppers, walkers and their pets and children.

“Dispatch continued to advise people calling in concerning the wearing of masks to contact the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) number that was provided by the governor’s office, as well as let them know the order does not apply to outdoor,” Pitcher said.

For more information on OSHA guidance concerning personal protective equipment, visit www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/. For information from Oregon Health Authority, visit govstatus.egov.com/OR-OHA-COVID-19.

One of the main points Pitcher wanted to share with the community was the integration and professionalism shown by members of Florence’s first responders over the holiday, which he characterized as an all-around team effort as they collectively responded to almost 100 calls.

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