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Emergency call volume flat or declining slightly during virus crisis

Emergency call volume flat or declining slightly during virus crisis

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Some local police and fire departments are seeing varying instances of decreased call volumes over the last two weeks during the coronavirus outbreak.

Since Gov. Ned Lamont issued his first executive order two weeks ago in connection with the coronavirus, declaring a public health emergency and civil preparedness emergency, 12 more executive orders have been issued that have closed schools statewide, businesses, limited social gatherings to increasingly small numbers, and in the latest order asking residents to “Stay home and stay safe.”

Local first responders started using protocols to handle possible cases of exposure to COVID-19, which include screening protocols by dispatch centers.

On Monday, Cheshire police reported a slight decrease in overall call volume during this period in comparison with the same timeframe last year.

“... Our call volume is down and we have not seen a spike in anything in particular,” Lt. Michael Durkee said Monday. “We are happy that everyone is taking this seriously and coming together as a community to combat the COVID-19 virus.”

Overall, the department responded to 1,203 calls from March 9 to Monday, while in 2019 during the same time period, the department responded to 1,319 calls, according to information released by Durkee. One area where calls are increased this year is location checks, Durkee noted, with 622 this year compared to 295 last year.

Meriden police are seeing about the same call volume recently, but are limiting some of the types of calls officers are responding to in person, Sgt. Christopher Griffin said. If the call is not for a crime in progress, or is a civil matter, for example, police are taking reports over the phone, Griffin said.

Southington Fire Department call volume in general has been about the same, Battalion Chief Thomas Donnelly said. There have been a few days where it has been slightly calmer.

Southington police also haven’t seen a notable difference in call volume, Lt. Stephen Elliott said. One thing the dispatchers are noting is residents have been calling in to see if there is a way to help out or volunteer, Elliott said. Officers are still responding to calls and taking precautions.

The department is using an online reporting system for non-emergency type calls, and Elliott said there have been some reports coming through that system.

Wallingford Lt. Cheryl Bradley said the only types of calls that have changed are domestic ones, which have increased recently. She said so far this month the numbers have already surpassed last month’s, and there are still a number of days left before the end of March. 

“All other calls for service seem to be status quo, however, we are expecting domestics to go up, hopefully only slightly,” Bradley said. “We would also anticipate the amount of motor vehicle accidents to significantly decrease with much less people on the roadways.”

Bradley noted that DUI cases are currently down for the month. 

Wallingford Deputy Fire Chief Joseph Czentnar said their department hasn’t noticed much of a difference. They did see a little spike of some types of calls once residents started staying home, such as medical calls, Czentnar noted.

He said the crews are in contact with police about protocols and said crews are making some internal changes to adjust. Crews are scrubbing down fire stations every other day and are not performing large group-training sessions, Czentnar said.

“We’re doing what we can to keep our guys safe,” Czentnar said Monday. “If we start losing people in emergency services, it’s not going to be good.”

lsellew@record-journal.com203-317-2225Twitter: @LaurenSellewRJ