Fire, ambulance police staying busy | VailDaily.com

Fire, ambulance police staying busy

The emergency dispatch center in Vail operates 24 hours a day. During the holidays, calls for help come at a much faster pace.

EAGLE COUNTY — Lift operators, ski patrollers and bartenders aren't the only Vail Valley workers putting in extra hours over the holidays. The valley's emergency workers are spending plenty of time on the job, too.

Eagle County Paramedic Services provides ambulance service to this side of Eagle County. Right now, that group is running hard.

Doug Krause, a paramedic supervisor for the ambulance district, said that agency is about 50 percent busier than usual right now.

During normal periods, the district runs, on average, 30 calls per day. Over the Christmas holidays, that number shoots up to 45 or 50 calls per day.

"This is a population-driven business," Krause said. "The more population we have, the busier we are."

'More of it'

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This time of year, the ambulance district runs a lot of skier transports. Auto accidents require ambulances when snow slicks up the roadways. And, with plenty of visitors coming from their sea-level homes, there are plenty of calls for service for altitude-related health problems.

"It's everything we usually see, but more of it," Krause said.

Vail Fire Chief Mark Novak said his department also sees that increase in calls.

"This time of year, one of the main source of calls is motor vehicle accidents," Novak said. "We have people who are less experienced driving in snow, and with heavier (traffic) volume, we see some behaviors that instigate accidents.

In addition to accidents, Vail's fire crews respond to a lot of vacation homes that might not have been properly prepared for winter.

"We'll get people coming up for the first time this time of year," Novak said. "That means we'll see chimney fires. We'll see fire alarms and carbon monoxide alarms, too."

Some calls involve people burning either their Christmas trees or a lot of wrapping paper in their fireplaces.

In addition to more calls, the holiday crowds can make it harder for crews to get where they need to be.

Depending on the time of day, it can be hard to get to a call on Bridge Street, or get a truck through the main Vail roundabout, Novak said.

Novak said good news this season is that Christmas falls on a weekend. That means one shift will work Christmas Eve, and another will work Christmas Day. That means just about everyone will get at least part of the weekend at home with family.

Off the wall

While a good number of holiday emergency calls are fairly routine, the Vail Police Department does respond to some interesting incidents.

Detective Sgt. Luke Causey sent an email about some holiday happenings over the past few years.

"In 2013 on New Years we responded to a drunken male at a local hotel," Causey wrote. "Our 20-year-old friend had gotten himself completely intoxicated and decided he didn't need any pants. He also concluded that the public restroom in a very high end establishment was the perfect place for a nap. The female officer that was dispatched to deal with the underage napper was none too pleased."

Overindulgence is a common theme in resort towns during busy periods.

Causey wrote that the Vail Police every holiday season make a number of drunk-driving arrests.

"Eggnog is especially potent this time of year," Causey wrote.

On New Year's Eve of 2015, someone at a party decided to move her husband's Christmas present, a brand-new luxury SUV, to a more convenient location. That ended up with the vehicle taking two full rolls down a hillside. Two tow trucks were required to recover the vehicle.

"We don't know what she's giving him this year, but we'd suggest something that fits in a pocket. Like a bus pass," Causey wrote.

Sometimes, crime victims get lucky.

On New Year's Eve of 2014, a vehicle was stolen while it was idling in the parking lot of the Vail City Market store.

Thanks to the car's vehicle location system, the car was located in Vail, with the victim's Christmas presents still in the back of the vehicle.

"The thief left the car very near where the owner lived," Causey wrote. "If they'd have waited, they could've just asked for a ride!"

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com and @scottnmiller.

Who are the helpers?

• Vail has its own police and fire departments.

• Avon has its own police department.

• Fire protection from Tennessee Pass to Wolcott is provided by the Eagle River Fire Protection District.

• Ambulance service for this side of Eagle County is provided by Eagle County Paramedic Services.

• All emergency services are available by calling 911.