(Updated at 11:20 a.m.) The Arlington County Fire Department has seen a reduction in calls amid the coronavirus pandemic, though its members have remained busy.
In a typical day, ACFD dispatches personnel to about 80 calls. Currently, the number of daily dispatches is averaging in the mid-60s, according to spokesman Capt. Justin Tirelli.
Calls for things like vehicle crashes, scooter accidents, and workplace slip-and-fall injuries are down sharply, with fewer people commuting to work. Dispatches for possible structure fires are about the same, Tirelli said, but there have been few actual fires over the past few weeks.
“Structure fires are often in places that are not occupied,” he explained. “Now that people are not leaving the house to go to work, they’re at home and they’ve been able to catch it before something happens.”
Medical calls are an key metric to track, a potential harbinger of a worsening outbreak. Tirelli said medical calls are actually down slightly, though that doesn’t tell the full story. Those who are calling are often exhibiting more serious symptoms.
“It could be because people are reluctant to call for help — waiting longer before calling 911,” he said, also noting that with COVID-19 “a lot of people don’t feel the symptoms until it’s very late in the game.”
Anecdotally, ARLnow has heard what seems like an increase in calls for COVID and flu-like-symptoms over the past week. This week alone, we’ve taken note of two life-threatening, CPR-in-progress calls at long-term care facilities. But it’s not just older residents calling for help due to possible COVID-19 symptoms — we also heard a call for a woman in her 20s, in an apartment building, experiencing trouble breathing.
Though slightly reduced in number, on net the medical calls have taken more personnel time due to the increased severity of the symptoms and the need for firefighters to protect themselves, Tirelli said.
“Our [Personal Protective Equipment] process is very methodical,” he said.
Tirelli said there has been no shortage of ambulances in the county and “we’ve been able to manage really well” to meet all needs without issues, thanks in part to some smart planning and actions.
Two-and-a-half weeks ago the county opened a telemedicine line in its dispatch center, to steer those with medical concerns but no symptoms to other resources. More recently, ACFD deployed what it’s calling an “Omega unit” — an SUV staffed by an EMT and an APO, the county’s most highly-trained paramedics. The Omega unit evaluates (in full protective gear) those with minor COVID-like symptoms, while keeping ambulances that can transport patients in service for life-threatening emergencies.
As we go through the COVID-19 pandemic ACFD continues to adjust our response to ensure the best service & safety for our community & first responders. Yesterday we deployed a new non-transport unit, ALS113 staffed with and EMT-B & Advanced Paramedic Officer. pic.twitter.com/zaUubffiAz
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) April 17, 2020
“Medical matchmaking,” Tirelli explained, “using the right resources for the right patients. That reduces both unnecessary ambulance calls and unnecessary ER visits.”
Even though hospitals are doing their best to isolate COVID-19 patients, “the emergency room is not a safe place to be right now…when there’s a very contagious virus like this,” he said.
The fire department expects that Arlington’s COVID cases have not peaked yet, Tirelli said, and the department remains ready to handle a future surge of calls. A second Omega unit can also be deployed, if necessary.
One thing residents can do to help keep firefighters safe and ready to respond to the most serious calls is to dial the right number for help depending on the situation.
“If someone is not having an emergency, the best place for medical advice is the Health Department hotline: 703-228-7999,” Tirelli said. “If they are having an emergency they should call 911.”
Arlington Covid-19 hotline is answering questions until 7. Call 703-228-7999 to discuss symptoms, testing and related issues. Only call 9-1-1 during an emergency. pic.twitter.com/HI88iJGTbE
— Ready Arlington (@ReadyArlington) April 22, 2020
Students: Keep the Career Center’s Farm Animals — “A staff proposal to revamp the animal-science program at the Arlington Career Center, including the removal of on-site large non-domesticated animals, is drawing brushback. The proposal calls for focusing more on smaller, domestic animals at the expense of farm animals, which have been part of the program for years and have come to be a beloved part of the Career Center family.” [InsideNova]
NBC 4 Profiles ACFD Mass Shooter Plan — “The Arlington County Fire Department is leading a national shift in how rescue squads respond to mass shootings.” Arlington fire trucks are now equipped with bulletproof vests and personnel are trained to treat victims as soon as possible. [NBC 4]
Arlington Rent on Par with D.C. — “The District and Arlington County are virtually tied for average apartment rent, at $2,233 and $2,236 respectively. Rents in D.C. and Arlington County are both up 4.3% in the last year.” [WTOP]
Local Tech Firm Not Meeting Job Hype, Yet — “Blockchain software developer Block.one promised in September to add 170 jobs in Arlington over three years, so we’re checking in on where its local employee numbers stand. Out of the 231 employees the company has listed on LinkedIn, 24 are now located in the D.C. area.” [Washington Business Journal]
How One Young Resident Affords Housing Here — “In 2013, [Mallory Scott] and one roommate moved into a three-bedroom, World War II-era Arlington house where the monthly mortgage and property taxes totaled $1,200. She had a connection that helped her find the place: Her parents, who now live in Nevada, purchased the home in 1991 for $190,000 when the Army assigned Scott’s father to Arlington. Today, it’s worth roughly $800,000.” [WAMU]
Neighborhood Near Clarendon Profiled — “Lyon Village is a chic, charming neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia, that resides regally just across the river from Washington, D.C. The 191-acre community of 6,000 residents, which was established in the mid-1920s by developer Frank Lyon for whom it is named, still retains a small-town, good-to-see-you feel yet offers access to all the cultural activities and amenities of the nation’s capital.” [Mansion Global]
Posted by Arlington County Virginia – Government on Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Calling 911 isn’t always as simple as picking up the phone and dialing the numbers.
April is “911 Education Month,” so Arlington County put together some short guides for when and how someone should get in touch with emergency services.
Users can enter 911 into the “to” or “recipient” field. In the message, include the location of the emergency and whether the police, fire or an ambulance is needed.
The dispatcher could follow up with questions and give instructions. Those using the text feature are asked to avoid abbreviations or slang and to keep the messages short.
In a video posted last week (above) 911 dispatchers Alexis Brown and Morgan Turner fielded questions about local emergency services. Both noted that one misconception is that 911 dispatchers track calls the way other smartphone apps can.
“Unlike Uber, we don’t have the ability to figure out where you are,” said Brown. “We have the ability to figure out closest cell tower to you,” but “if you can give us an address, a street that you’re on, closest business, any resources you have to assist us,” it could help first responders reach you faster.
Turner said the difference is in how emergency services track calls.
“Apps like Uber use wifi signals. We use cell towers,” said Turner. “So give us the address first. At the very least we can send someone your way. Beyond that: name, phone number, and what’s happening.”
Turner also said many people call 911 by accident and immediately hang up, but this causes some problems for dispatchers.
“Just stay on the line and tell us it’s not an emergency,” said Turner. “If you hang up, we have to assume there’s an emergency and we will call you back.”
Brown also said those who speak languages other than English shouldn’t feel discouraged about calling emergency services. Several dispatchers speak Spanish, and for more uncommon languages dispatch services have resources to get a translator on the line.
Whether or not to call 911 can sometimes be unclear, but Turner said an ongoing threat of harm is the dividing line.
“The line can seem blurry, lots of times people aren’t sure,” said Turner. “The way I always think of it: if there’s a threat of harm, like if someone might be hurt, like a person in a medical emergency or a fire.”
For situations that require police or the fire department that don’t quite rise to the level of a 911 call, Brown noted that the county’s non-emergency line can be reached at 703-558-2222.
Photo via Arlington County
Virginia Hospital Center has announced a new partnership with local first responders to more effectively handle mass casualty incidents like terrorist attacks or active shooter situations.
Arlington’s new Hospital Response Task Force is “believed to be the first of its kind in the nation,” organizers say. It was formed in response to lessons learned from mass casualty situations elsewhere, during which wounded would flood emergency rooms and overwhelm hospital staff.
“In nearly all cases where events included a large number of victims, significant issues were documented at hospitals nearby the incident,” VHC said in a press release. “Hospitals were overrun with victims who self-transported to the hospital, oftentimes with friends or ride-sharing services. The Hospital Response Task Force model in Arlington aims to provide immediate assistance to hospitals to prevent the surge of self-reporting victims from reducing the hospital’s ability to save lives.”
The new plan would have the fire department, law enforcement officers and hospital staff collaborating in the event of a crisis to help handle the surge of victims.
The plan has been in development since a working group was established last June, and the plan is expected to be integrated into Arlington County’s emergency response operations starting in May.
“While specifics of the plan will not be disseminated to the public for security reasons, paramedics, law enforcement officers and hospital staff will work hand-in-hand to provide rapid treatment and protection for incoming victims,” the press release says.
Photo via Google Maps
(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) Arlington County police and medics have responded to Clarendon after a promotion for free cheesecake got out of control.
Police were called to the area of the Cheesecake Factory at 2900 Clarendon Blvd earlier today for a report of a large crowd and heavy traffic in the area. Around 1 p.m., another dispatch went out for a fight in progress at the restaurant, though officers did not find an active fight when they arrived.
The culprit: the Cheesecake Factory is giving away free slices of cheesecake in honor of its 40th anniversary, but only to those who order on Doordash. The result, according to an Arlington County Police spokeswoman: an unruly crowd of delivery drivers inside the restaurant, trying to pick up orders, and a rash of double parking around the Clarendon area.
The scene was “a little hectic” and officers were working to bring order and “calm the situation down,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage told ARLnow.com.
During the fracas, according to Savage, one person refused police commands to leave the restaurant and a struggle with officers ensued. That person was arrested and is expected to be charged with disorderly conduct, Savage said. He requested to be transported to a local hospital by medics for evaluation of possible injuries.
@ARLnowDOTcom lots of police activity at the Clarendon cheesecake factory. Possibly tied to free cheesecake day. One ambulance, fire chief vehicle, and a dozen cruisers
— Jon L (@ArlingtonJon) December 5, 2018
Here is what the Cheesecake Factory said about the promotion on its website:
In celebration of our 40th anniversary, on December 5th only starting at 11:30AM local time, we’re giving away 40,000 FREE slices* of cheesecake! Get a free slice* of cheesecake when you order delivery through DoorDash! Use promo code FREESLICE at checkout. Get it while you can because an offer this sweet won’t last long!
As an added bonus, DoorDash is offering $0 delivery fee** on all of The Cheesecake Factory delivery orders from December 5 – 11! No promo code needed!
Later Wednesday afternoon, photos and video emerged on Twitter that appeared to show the arrest and some of the chaos inside the restaurant.
@DoorDash @ARLnowDOTcom @Cheesecake @washingtonpost @dcexaminer over 2hrs wait for delivery drivers,cars got ticketed,ppl got arrested n profanities thrown at the poor employees. Not worth getting injured over $6,jerks. pic.twitter.com/QovOL76QjX
— p p (@pat_patsy_cake) December 5, 2018
— p p (@pat_patsy_cake) December 5, 2018
Two left-hand lanes of southbound I-395 are blocked due to a driver suffering a medical emergency.
The incident happened on the main line of the highway between Arlington Ridge Road and S. Glebe Road, around 2:15 p.m.
More via Twitter:
Driver reportedly swerved across lanes of traffic, stopped car and crawled out onto highway
— Arlington Now (@ARLnowDOTcom) October 1, 2018
INCIDENT: Road Closure
LOCATION: SB I 395 at Glebe (Exit 7)
IMPACT: Due to police and fire activity the two left-hand lanes of SB 395 are currently closed. Expect delays. pic.twitter.com/SQPIfQov3R
— Arlington Alert (@arlingtonalert) October 1, 2018
Update at 3 p.m. — Lanes have reopened.
Race organizers shortened the course mid-way through the race, citing safety concerns amid unusually warm and humid conditions for an October day, WJLA reported. Sunday was “Washington’s sultriest October day ever recorded,” according to the Capital Weather Gang.
ACFD evaluated or treated a total of 145 patients and transported 34 to local hospitals, mostly due to heat-related incidents, Capt. Ben O’Bryant told ARLnow.com.
The fire department had staged two medic units on scene, with utility vehicles to transport stricken runners from the course, but called in an additional six ambulances around 9:30 a.m., O’Bryant said. The ambulance bus was called in shortly thereafter.
O’Bryant described the response as a “strike force” response, one level below a mass-casualty incident. All of the sirens were enough to attract the attention of Crystal City residents, one of whom took to Twitter to ask about it.
We are responding to medical emergencies around the Army 10 Miler as well as other emergencies in the area.
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) October 8, 2017
During the incident five ambulances from Fairfax, Alexandria and Reagan National Airport filled in as mutual aid at Arlington fire stations, said O’Bryant.
Last year, during much cooler weather, ACFD only transported five Army Ten Miler runners to Virginia Hospital Center, he said.
Photo via John Sonderman/Flickr. Hat tip to Jim H.
Police were called to a restaurant on the 4700 block of Lee Highway last night just before 10 p.m. for a “report of a disorderly subject.” The name of the restaurant was not released, but Metro 29 Diner, Thirsty Bernie and Cowboy Cafe are located on or near that block of Lee Highway.
The suspect then became combative and assaulted five police officers and bit the finger of a paramedic while in custody, according to police.
More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:
ASSAULT & BATTERY ON POLICE, 2017-04030296, 4700 block of Lee Highway. At approximately 9:52 p.m. on April 3, police were dispatched to the report of a disorderly subject inside a restaurant. The responding officers escorted the subject outside and as they were conducting the investigation, he allegedly became combative and assaulted multiple officers. Once in custody, the subject bit the finger of an Arlington County Fire Department Medic attempting to evaluate him for injuries. Jorge Luis Quintero-Amaya, 28, of Temple Hills, MD was arrested and charged with Assault & Battery on Law Enforcement (x5), Assault on Medical Personnel, Resisting Arrest, Obstruction of Justice and Failure to ID. He was held on no bond.
High Water Bills Prompt Questions — A number of Arlington residents say their quarterly water bills for the summer and fall spiked to inconceivably high levels, in some cases in excess of $2,000. The county government, however, says no systemic billing issues have been found and blames the high bills on hot and dry weather combined with homeowners irrigating their yards. [InsideNova]
News Photog Saved By Arlington Medic — WUSA9 photographer Dion Wiggins suffered a massive heart attack while shooting video of traffic along I-395 last month. It was an Arlington County paramedic, Chris Abrahams, who together with firefighter Jason Griffith revived Wiggins from cardiac arrest, stabilized him and transported him to George Washington University Hospital. Wiggins is now back at home and on the road to recovery. [WUSA9]
ACPD: Don’t DUI After the Super Bowl — Super Bowl Sunday is two days away and the Arlington County Police Department is reminding residents to designate a driver for the big game. The Super Bowl is one of the biggest days of the year for DUI, with a third of all U.S. traffic deaths due to drunk drivers. [Arlington County]
D.C. Metro Work This Weekend — Major scheduled track work will close six downtown D.C. Metro stations along the Blue, Orange and Silver lines this weekend. The Blue and Orange lines will be split in two and the Silver line will end at Ballston. “Customers traveling between Virginia and DC are encouraged to use the Yellow Line, if possible,” Metro says. [WMATA]
Kudos for Sheriff’s Office — “The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office has been awarded reaccreditation by the American Correctional Association Commission (ACA), whose standards are the national benchmark for the effective operation of correctional facilities in the United States.” [Arlington County]
WHS Swimmers in Regionals — “With three Wakefield swimmers heading off to regionals — the most in recent history — the Wakefield community is overflowing with enthusiasm and excitement in anticipation of a splashing victory.” [Wakefield Chieftain]
Obit: Mel Labat — Long-time Arlington tennis coach Mel Labat passed away last week. A memorial service will be held tomorrow (Saturday). A scholarship fund has been established, with the proceeds going to the Arlington Youth Tennis Program. [YMCA, Legacy]
Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok
Bald Eagle Spotted on Fourth of July — A bald eagle was spotted in the area of N. Park Drive, in the Arlington Forest neighborhood, yesterday on the Fourth of July (see above). The eagle “finally flew away after half an hour of harassment from a bunch of crows,” noted a neighborhood listserv email, but not before delighting adults and children in the neighborhood who gathered to see the patriotic sight.
Vietnam Vet Survives Stroke Thanks to Medics — Quick-acting Arlington County paramedics, a Good Samaritan who helped direct traffic at an intersection to let the ambulance through and skilled emergency room doctors helped to save the life of a Vietnam veteran who suffered a stroke while visiting his son in Arlington. [Fox 5]
School Board Chair Focused on Achievement — The Arlington School Board’s new chairman, Nancy Van Doren, says her focus is on individual student achievement, even in the midst of ongoing school growth and capacity challenges. “Our litmus test must be: Does each and every child receive the support he or she needs?” Van Doren said. [InsideNova]
Faked Fireworks Included Arlington Angle — The internet is abuzz about PBS’ use of “rerun” fireworks footage intermixed with live footage during its Capitol Fourth broadcast last night. One of the camera angles used showed an impossibly clear view of the fireworks and of the Capitol building from Arlington. In actuality, rain and low clouds made for a dreary, hazy view of the fireworks display. [WTOP]
Photo courtesy of Paul Fiorino
County Announces ‘Energy Lending Library’ — Today, on Earth Day, Arlington County is formally announcing what it says is the nation’s first “energy lending library.” Via Arlington Public Library, residents will be able to borrow thermal imaging cameras, energy meters and books that will help residents identify areas of energy waste in their homes. [Arlington County]
Woman Arrested After Foot Chase in Pentagon City — A shoplifting suspect was taken into custody in Pentagon City after leading police on a foot chase yesterday, just before 6 p.m. Police were still searching for the woman’s shoplifting accomplice. [Twitter]
New Lubber Run Community Center Planned — Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz has proposed a new, $45 million Lubber Run Community Center. The four-story structure would also include a parking garage, so that the existing surface lot can be converted to parkland. [InsideNova]
Arlington Hires Full-Time Ombudsman — Arlington County has a new ombudsman. Former Dept. of Human Services assistant director Robert Sharpe has been named to the county’s newly-created position of Director of Constituent Services. Sharpe’s job will be “troubleshooting issues on behalf of his fellow Arlington residents while working directly with departments, County leadership and the County Board.” [Arlington County]
Free ‘Pop Up Yoga’ Session on the Pike — On Sunday, from 11 a.m. to noon, a free “pop up” yoga class will be held at Penrose Square (2503 Columbia Pike). “Lisa Marie, local artist and certified yoga instructor, will lead the participants through postures, intentions and breath” that are specifically inspired by the pair of sculptures in the park. [With Love DC]
Medics on Motorcycles? — The citizen task force coming up with recommendations for Arlington’s Fire Station 8 has struck upon a novel idea: using motorcycle-based paramedics to get to patients faster in traffic than would a big, lumbering ambulance. Not every member of the task force, however, thought that was a good idea, citing potential issues with staffing. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick