By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — The fire department set a new record for calls last month with 478.
Fire Chief Ken Erickson said call volume has been increasing in recent years. Most are related to medical emergencies. An aging demographic factors into the uptick in medical calls.
In July 2014, the department handled 357 calls.
Last month, there were 83 fire and hazard calls, 343 emergency medical calls, 15 motor vehicle crashes and 37 service calls. The city has seen an uptick in overdose calls associated with opioid abuse, but it was not clear how much this contributed to July's record as the medical calls were not broken down into categories.
Of the fire and hazard calls, 16 were actual fires, eight of which were for fires in buildings. Of the medical calls, 60 patients were considered high-risk.
Fourteen percent of all calls were in The Weirs, 65 percent were in the downtown area, 7 percent were in Lakeport and 7 percent of the calls were to other towns. The remaining 7 percent were split between the north and south ends of the city.
Kendra Peaslee. director of emergency services at Lakes Region General Hospital, said the volume of patients in the hospital's emergency room has also been increasing in recent years.
She didn't have exact numbers, but she said an aging population has contributed to the increase and to the fact that many patients now have more chronic and complex conditions than was the case in the past.
In the year to date, the fire department has handled 2,816 emergency calls, which is up 39 percent from 2010.
Since January, the fire department has maintained a citywide response time of four minutes to 56 percent of all calls, and six minutes to 83 percent of all calls.