LAKESIDE – The Lakeside Quick Response Unit responds to around 400 calls a year, and officials say that is increasing at a 10 percent rate per-year.
With the increase in call volume, the QRU has seen a sharp decrease in volunteers.
The call came in around 4:30 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon last June.
“We got dispatched to a collapse of a deck that had a report of about thirty people on it,” said QRU volunteer Brian Reed. “A lot of people were looking to me to do a lot of things quickly.”
During a memorial service, a section of a deck full of gatherers had collapsed. The total number of people hurt was determined to be over 50.
Reed assessed the situation as “a mass casualty incident,” calling in all available first responders from across the Valley.
“The mission of the Lakeside QRU is to provide the surrounding public of Lakeside, Somers and South Kalispell the most reliable and the best patient care possible and to be able to respond as quickly as possible,” said QRU volunteer Mike Sterry.
No lives were lost in the deck collapse thanks to their quick action, but first responder Mike Sterry says he worries that well-trained EMT’s won’t be available to respond to such calls in the future.
“Probably one of our bigger challenges looking forward is having the responders and having enough responders to be on call. It’s completely volunteer,” said Sterry. “A lot of people are working full-time. They don’t have the time to answer because they’re off working. You have to find the people who are committed to doing that and that’s a difficult prospect to do.”
There are 15 EMT’s and four paramedics currently on staff at the QRU. The Lakeside QRU is run by volunteers on-call 24/7, logging around 6,000 hours of their time a year without ever receiving a paycheck.
Reporting by Nicole Miller for MTN News