Duvall Fire 45 saw the average number of calls go down to about 73 in February, roughly 14 behind the five-year average for the same time period. While the calls related to fires may have decreased, the response to mental health challenges has remained steady.
Fire Chief David Burke of Duvall-King County Fire District 45 highlighted trends and success stories over the last several months in a presentation to Duvall City Council on March 16.
“It’s important to recognize and thank, not only the police department, but the firefighters and first responders for their compassion and care,” Burke said.
Recently, he noted, the department responded to two different potential suicides. Luckily, each time the first responders were able to intervene and provide help for the individuals involved. Burke said increased calls for mental health are some of the long-term ramifications of the pandemic.
“Our community hurts. A simple smile goes a long way right now,” he said. “And I appreciate it when I see it.”
Duvall Mayor Amy Ockerlander recounted some of her own experiences with depression and anxiety during the meeting. She expressed the importance of seeking help from doctors and medication, and keeping an eye on legislation as more options for counseling and therapy become available.
“If anything comes out of this, I hope that society begins to recognize mental health is health care and that it’s just as important as getting your annual checkup with your doctor — sometimes even more important,” Ockerlander said. “Untreated mental health challenges can lead to physical challenges as well.”
According to Burke, there are many people in the community doing a lot of good. While some of these people are in uniform, he added, it’s also city staff and everyday citizens putting in work to help those in need.
Burke said King County boasts the greatest resuscitation rate in the world. And that is only made possible because other employees, as well as citizens, are willing to do bystander CPR and help save unconscious individuals.
“I just want to say thank you for taking care of one another,” he said.