Topaz Ranch Estates fire station gets full-time staff |

Topaz Ranch Estates fire station gets full-time staff

by Maggie O'Neill

South county residents in trouble will find help much closer now that two full-time medics are stationed in Topaz Ranch Estates.

Two emergency medical technicians, who are also firefighters, are stationed at Topaz Ranch Estates Fire Station from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

One medical technician will be at Topaz Ranch Estates Fire Station from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Seventy percent of the calls toned in that area are for medical aid.

“The most important thing anytime with a response is to get there as fast as you can,” said East Fork Fire and Paramedic Districts Fire Chief Tod Carlini.

In all, four full-time personnel rotate through four 10-hour shifts at Topaz Ranch Estates Fire Station to fill the daytime slots. Volunteer firefighters supplement the career staff during the day and man the fire station in the evening and throughout the night.

“What we can do is provide a more immediate response and we do so with a codependent relationship with our volunteers,” Carlini said.

Previously, full-time personnel from the Gardnerville Ranchos responded to south county when Topaz Ranch Estates Fire Station lacked volunteers.

“That’s an hour round-trip,” said Terry Taylor, a fire captain and inspector for East Fork. “It’s at least 27 or 28 miles to get down there with an ambulance and the same to get back. This cuts a good 20 or 30 minutes off getting a person moving toward a primary care facility.”

Life-saving time is increased when an ambulance from Topaz Ranch Estates Fire Station rather than from Ranchos Fire and Rescue meets with a medical helicopter.

Care-Flight can now land at Holbrook Junction, at the intersection of highways 395 and 208, due to planning and developed by Captain Walt Kesteloot of East Fork of a helicopter zone.

The emergency landing area, graded to provide smooth landings and decrease blowing debris, is striped with an H.

The zone is for emergency vehicles only. Ambulance drivers from Douglas County, Lyon County and Mono County, Calif., can also meet at the landing zone to swap patients.

Other vehicles parked there may be towed. The Nevada Department of Transportation worked with East Fork to develop the site.

Another change helping East Fork response in south county, is the way personnel from both Topaz Ranch Estates Fire Station and Topaz Lake Fire Station are dispatched.

“What we were doing prior to that was say just toning Topaz Lake (Fire Station), but station four (Topaz Ranch Estates Fire Station) people weren’t activated,” Carlini said. “Now both stations are toned for any calls in south county.”

Ronna Hubbard, volunteer fire chief at Topaz Ranch Estates Fire Station said the changes are working great.

“It’s wonderful,” she said. “The community loves knowing someone’s at the station during the day.”

The full-time personnel, who have been stationed at Topaz Ranch Estates Fire Station since June 1, have filled in daytime lags.

“The biggest thing during the day was most of the volunteers work in town,” Hubbard said. “It got thin sometimes with as much growth that’s going in south county.”

When Topaz Ranch Estates staff approached East Fork for a solution to the problem, the district responded by rearranging where its 16-plus career firefighters are stationed. In addition to two new positions at Topaz Ranch Estates Fire Station, an additional position became open to be filled as needed at various stations.

“We looked at the whole system and found the weak points,” Carlini said.

In all, career firefighters are at four of the district’s 13 stations, including 24-hour staffing at station seven in the Gardnerville Ranchos, station 14 in Minden, and station 12 in Jacks Valley.

Twenty-four hour staffing at station four, Topaz Ranch Estates Fire Station, is filled by career EMT intermediate/firefighters and volunteers.

“With the combined tones at the two stations and the staffing during the day, we’ve improved services down in south county,” Carlini said.

— Maggie O’Neill can be reached at mo’ or 782-5121, ext. 214.