Emergency calls up 25 percent in 2010

Published 4:36 pm Wednesday, January 26, 2011

On call: Clanton firefighters respond to a medical call last month. The department’s number of responses increased 6.7 percent from 2009 to 2010.

The number of emergency calls in Chilton County increased more than 25 percent from 2009 to 2010, and safety officials blame a combination of a population increase in the county and people’s desperate financial situations.

Chilton County’s E-911 service dispatched 60, 430 calls in 2009; in 2010, the number was up to 75,894.

The totals include everything from fires and medical emergencies to domestic disputes, and calls were responded to by fire departments and law enforcement agencies.

Maplesville Police Department experienced the largest percentage increase in number of calls among law enforcement agencies, 3,594 calls in 2009 compared to 5,163 calls last year.

Police Chief Todd Ingram said he thinks a struggling national economy has caused desperation in small towns like Maplesville.

“Gas is going up, you have more drive-offs, there are more domestic calls because people are fighting at home over their financial situations,” Ingram said. “I would expect it to continue to get worse; there’s no indicator that things are getting better.”

Maplesville police force should feel some relief in the coming months when an extra officer finishes training and begins working full-time. The addition would give the town six police officers.

Cedar Grove saw the largest percent increase (258.1 percent) among fire departments but has only been a department since August 2009—Cedar Grove split off from Collins Chapel, which, not incidentally, had the largest decrease (minus-19.8 percent) among county departments.

Three more of the county’s 21 law enforcement and fire department’s saw a decrease in their number of calls, but Thorsby Police Chief Rodney Barnett said the data can be misleading because some calls come directly to offices.

“We field a lot of calls right through here,” Barnett said.

Enterprise Fire Department responded to 39.6 percent more calls in 2010 than in 2009 (451 to 323), and Fairview wasn’t far behind with an increase of 35.9 percent (295 to 217).

Adam Price, president of the Chilton Firefighters Association and chief of the Cedar Grove Fire Department, said he thinks the increase in call volume is attributable to more people living in the county.

“Everybody has picked up, and it’s hard to say why,” Price said.

Helen Smith, director of the E-911 service, said the county’s aging population also contributes to a high number of medical calls.

“And more people are moving into our county, and you’re going to have more sicknesses and illnesses because of that.”

A compilation of rescue call numbers from 2009 and 2010 is below:

Department name-2009 calls-2010 calls-Percent change

Clanton Police    16,921    21,704    28.3
Thorsby Police    2,687    2,128    -20.8
Jemison Police    6,125    7,125    16.3
Maplesville Police    3,594    5,163    43.7
Sheriff’s Dept.    25,458    33,296    30.8
Cedar Grove Fire    62    222    258.1
Clanton Fire    1,465    1,563    6.7
Collins Chapel Fire    288    231    -19.8
East Chilton Fire    247    218    -11.7
Enterpreise Fire    323    451    39.6
Fairview Fire    217    295    35.9
Gap of the Mtn. Fire    273    315    15.4
Jemison Fire    670    829    23.7
Isabella Fire    116    135    16.4
Maplesville Fire    177    179    1.1
North Chilton Fire    387    439    13.4
Plantersville Fire    22    29    31.8
South Chilton Fire    143    130    -9.1
Thorsby Fire    302    347    14.9
Union Grove Fire    315    372    18.1
Verbena Fire    275    341    24
West Chilton Fire    363    382    5.2
Total    60,430    75,894    25.6