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Rapid City Fire Department experienced a significant increase of 911 calls last year

Rapid City Fire Department was significantly busier in 2021 with a 10% increase in calls compared to the year prior.
Rapid city fire department was significantly busier in 2021 with a 10% increase in calls...
Rapid city fire department was significantly busier in 2021 with a 10% increase in calls compared to the year prior.(Gillian Trudeau)
Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 3:33 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - “Typically in communities and towns of our size, they’re doing between 10,000 to 12,000 calls a year, we’re doing 21,500,” said Jason Culberson, fire chief at Rapid City Fire Department.

The Rapid City Fire Department experienced a 10% increase in calls compared to 2020.

And, many factors play into the spike.

“There are just changes in the way our community accesses health care, there are increases in population, there are increases in fire activity due to the dry weather,” said Culberson.

The fire department also saw almost twice as many wildland fires last year, responding to 98 compared to the average of 50.

But, of all the calls received, only 7% were fire-related.

“The vast majority of our call volume is medical in nature, that’s what seems to be driving our call volume increases over the course of time,” said Culberson.

Those medical calls make up about 75% of 9-1-1 dials, a trend Culberson attributes to more people visiting and moving into the area.

“We do some planning and we need to continue to do some planning, what we didn’t foresee was this immediate quick increase in our population that’s starting now,” said Culberson.

Now that they know, he says the department is preparing for another 10 percent increase this year.

But people can put in the effort to avoid being a statistic.

“Looking to our community help us provide this service, understanding what an emergency is and calling 911 at an appropriate time, being careful with being fire-wise about fires outside and understanding what it means to be fire safe in our community,” said Culberson.

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