Last year, Beatrice Fire and Rescue faced their busiest year in terms of number of calls.
The department responded to 2,782 calls in 2017—up from 2,530 in 2016—and saw an uptick in most types of calls.
“I compared last year to this year's,” said Beatrice Fire and Rescue Chief Brian Daake. “Just in one spot that I noticed a big difference in numbers was in medical calls. We responded to 140 more medical calls than we did last year.”
There were also 80 motor vehicle accidents with injuries, Daake said, up from 52 in 2016.
The heavy storm back in June alone triggered more than 30 calls for service in about 3 1/2 hours. Most of the storm calls were due to downed power lines sparking in the street or in trees and welfare checks on family members. That night, all shifts were called in to work.
A lot of the calls Beatrice Fire and Rescue receives are seasonal, members of the department’s B shift said on Wednesday. Just as the seasons change, so do the calls for service.
In the springtime, there are always a few controlled burns that get out of control, Jeremy Seggerman said.
In the summer months, there are a lot of calls for heat-related illnesses and fireworks.
In the fall, when things are starting to dry out, the department gets a lot of calls for combine fires and fires caused by lit cigarettes tossed out of car windows.
Wintertime comes with its own hazards. The department gets a lot of calls for service on slips and falls on ice, beeping carbon monoxide detectors and blocked chimneys filling houses with smoke.
Winter also brings flu season, Jason Semrad said, and they get a lot of calls when it’s going around. They all get their flu shots, Semrad said, but they still take precautions against the virus.
“I always carry a mask in my pocket,” he said, pulling it from his pocket. “I carry, it's called an emesis bag, you can throw up in it. Real quick, you can have that out. I also wear glasses, gloves on every call--no matter what--and I also carry a little bottle of Germ X to try to keep my hands clean.”
In August, Beatrice Fire and Rescue crews were stationed at several points around town during the eclipse in August, Jake Yurka said. Even though Gage County was packed with thousands of visitors, the day was pretty calm, though they did nearly miss the eclipse after a call came in just at the moment of totality.
Yurka also went on a call that hit close to home this year after responding to his own mother’s call for service. They took her to the Nebraska Heart Institute in Lincoln which, Yurka said, saved her life.
“I was working and these lovely gentlemen helped my mom out,” Yurka said, gesturing to fellow members of the department. "They say you get tunnel vision. I definitely got tunnel vision. I was nervous and pacing around, so yeah, it was probably the most emotional call I've been on in my life.”