YORK, Pa -- Firefighters in York are responding to more calls for overdoses than building fires.
"It's a hit or miss. We could get three to four fire calls at a time or three to four EMS calls at a time" Deputy Fire Chief Chad Deardorff, said.
Deardorff said the department takes about 3,600 calls a year. About 1,200 are EMS calls. Four hundred of those are for overdoses. He said it's hard to get an exact number since EMS calls could be for any medical emergency, but he knows the amount has nearly doubled.
"I think it's horrifying having 3 young kids that are all in middle school and elementary school. It's a real epidemic. Back in my day we didn't have near the amount of drugs and heroin and opioids that there are now," Patrick Killian, said.
So far this year, firefighters have responded to 551 EMS calls. Chief Deardorff expects to hit one thousand before the end of 2018.
"Somebody has to do it unfortunately. But I guess that's the world we live in today," Killian said.
The department keeps Naloxone in every vehicle and carries it with all of their equipment. They administer 500-600 doses each year. That number doesn't include what EMS administers .
"I told him firefighters have a lot more responsibilities than fighting fires now a days," Dantley Green said.
"We're here to serve the citizens of York. and the visitors, and employees. regardless whether it's an ems call or a fire call - We're here as that first responder to do what we can for them at the best that we can. And that's our goal and that's why we chose to step up and respond to these types of calls," Deardorff said.
The calls don't take away from responding to fires or other emergencies.