A day in the life: Terre Haute Fire Department working to keep up with demand

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — At 7 a.m., Terre Haute firefighters start their shift, lasting 24-hours straight or longer.

“With me, I work on an ambulance. There’s times I’ve come in and I’ve never gone to bed,” said Micheal Shelton, a fireman and paramedic.

In 2019, the Terre Haute Fire Department responded to 10,918 calls. Around 3,000 were fires and 7,900 were medical emergencies.

“A lot of the more common ones that we see are what they call a sick person call. That can be anything from someone not feeling well to even to the point of somebody being in what they call cardiac arrest. I believe possibly second could be short falls. But then you also throw chest pain and breathing difficulty in there,” Shelton said.

With growth in Downtown Terre Haute, including a new convention center, and on the east side with a VA clinic and casino in progress, their number of runs is expected to grow along with it.

This means the department has a need for more resources.

“We continue to hire people and train them as paramedics, so we have fresh paramedics ready to get on the ambulance and continue. We’re looking at a fourth squad. That’s definitely going to help out with run volume,” said Chief Jeff Fisher.

According to Chief Fisher, the department is required to have a certain amount of staff in ambulances, on engines, and on ladder trucks. Therefore, they often have to work overtime to fill empty roles where staff may be sick, on leave, or deployed.

When the men and women of the fire department aren’t out serving, they spend hours in training.

“A lot of what we do is EMS. The fire side and as well as us on the ambulance, we need to keep up on our skills,” said Kameron Silcock, a fireman and paramedic.

When it’s time to make a run, they give their all.

“We just want people to know we’re there for them. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is. If it’s two in the afternoon, two in the morning. If you need us, we’re always here and we’ll never stop,” Shelton said.

Fisher said a Fire House Committee within the department is meeting for the first time Thursday. The 16-member committee will be working together to figure out how they will go about restructuring their department in order to meet the needs of the city’s growth.

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