Guest Commentary by Bryan Scott
An auto accident was reported at 4:05 pm on Tuesday, February 13, 2018, in Oakley. It was a two-car accident, with one person injured who was subsequently transported to a hospital. The accident occurred at the intersection of East Cypress Road and Bethel Island Road, in Oakley.
It took nearly 16 minutes for help to arrive (15:58 minutes).
The reason for the lengthy response time is that all resources of the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD), the agency that provides emergency medical and fire services for the area, had responded to another auto accident that was reported at 3:38 pm, 27 minutes earlier.
This prior accident was in Brentwood, at the intersection of Sycamore Ave. and Brentwood Blvd. All three stations responded to the accident, and four victims were airlifted to area hospitals.
Help for the Oakley accident came from a neighboring fire district, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District (ConFire), as well as the county-contracted ambulance service provider. The two Confire stations nearest to the Oakley accident are in Antioch at 315 W. 10th Street and 196 Bluerock Drive.
According to Google Maps the stations are 10.3 and 11.2 miles away from the accident site, respectively, with normal driving time estimated at 21 and 20 minutes. Arriving in 15:58 minutes means that flashing lights and a siren take about 20% off the normal driving time.
The nearest ECCFPD fire station to the Oakley accident is located at 540 Ohara Ave. in Oakley. According to Google Maps it is just 4.2 miles from the accident scene, eight minutes normal driving time by car. With a siren and flashing lights first reponders might arrive, from the closer fire station, in six minutes and 24 seconds.
The Monthly Operational Report issued by ECCFPD doesn’t list the severity of the injuries suffered in either accident. An ECCFPD Facebook posting says that four victims of the Brentwood accident were transported to hospital by helicopters, shown in a picture the agency posted.
Consider this: The human heart beats about 70-times per-minute, and pumps about 5-7 liters of blood per-minute. It has been estimated that blood makes up 7% of a body’s weight, so for a 150-180 lbs. person there will be 4.7 – 5.5 liters of blood in the body. Those of us with larger proportions will have more.
In a severe accident a cut to a major artery by glass or a piece of metal can cause blood to be pumped from the body, and rapid death. Less-severe trauma to the body’s circulatory system would, of course, take longer to cause death. But without immediate aid to staunch the loss of blood, a traffic accident victim has only minutes to live. It doesn’t take long to lose four or five liters of blood.
State-mandated funding for ECCFPD is less than $94 per-person, while areas in Central County have funding for the same emergency medical and fire services at $449 and $370 per-person, according to the county’s Local Agency Formation Commission. This funding allocation rate was set four decades ago, before East County experienced 1,500% residential growth.
Response times throughout the ECCFPD service area exceed municipal and industry goals by a wide amount, and the 115,000 residents are in danger because of this underfunding practice.
The County’s Grand Jury has issued several reports on the situation, a government task force has studied it, and the inadequate service has been noted by consultants, the media, and on a Vasco Road billboard that was erected by concerned citizens.
Oakley City Manager Bryan Montgomery has obstructed efforts to get property tax funding shifted to ECCFPD, so that ECCFPD can do a better job of protecting Oakley’s 40,000-and–growing population.
Like many top government managers, Montgomery wants to protect his agency’s budget. This is a noble goal, but he is doing so at the expense of Oakley resident safety.
Bryan Scott is Co-Chair of East County Voters for Equal Protection, a non-partisan citizen’s action committee striving to improve funding for the ECCFPD. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 925-418-4428. The group’s Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/EastCountyVoters/.