Emergency response teams trying to keep up with increasing population

RICHLAND, Wash. -- In the last ten years, Richland's population has spiked by 25%, all while a fire department tries to accommodate anyone. The result has been a longer wait during emergencies.

Thomas Damborg hangs up his fire gear at the beginning of every shift.

He says, "It's ready to go like this... It save 30 to 45 seconds probably."

Might not sound like much time, but when lives are at stake, every second counts.

Batallian Chief Ted Ricci explains, "Once our alarms go off in the station.. We are out the door... Wheels rolling within one minute."

Richland's goal for response is to get to any emergency within 5 minutes or less. Action News looked into how successful that goal has been. Last year, firefighters reached that time in more than half of all emergency calls. So far this year.. It's a little less, 50%.

For ambulance calls, which is by far the majority of calls in Richland..
Responders were on time in 69% of calls. So far this year.. It's 66%of the time.

They say by the end of the year, with the added calls, the numbers should even out. But it is getting harder to reach their goal. Richland's community is constantly growing.

Batallion Chief Ricci says, "It is having an impact on us. Knowing new streets..."

The added traffic and distance can quickly put seconds on the clock... But the department is hoping to expand in the next couple years by adding another station at Queensgate. In hopes of getting to your emergency quicker.

Action News also found out that the Kennewick Fire Department has been working to cut down response times by making the actual emergency tones shorter.