Defenders Update: Fire Marshal does not govern ambulance dispatch

Update on Defenders investigation into Leon Valley Fire Department response

By Myra Arthur - Anchor/Reporter
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LEON VALLEY - The State Fire Marshal does not have rules and regulations on whether fire departments that receive calls for a fire with reported injuries must dispatch an ambulance from their own fire station. Any such rules would be governed by local municipalities, according to the State Fire Marshal's Office.

Around 1 a.m. on July 5, a woman called 911 to report that a woman burned herself in a fire at the Forest Oaks Apartments at 6313 Evers Road. That woman, Chanelle Reyes, 31, later died.

Despite the dispatcher relaying the report of injury to Leon Valley firefighters, LVFD did not send their own ambulance to the scene that night.

Fire Chief Luis Valdez said the six firefighters on duty that night were not enough to operate an engine, truck and ambulance and that the department had to "prioritize because of that manpower, because of that staffing."

Roughly six minutes into radio transmissions between firefighters and dispatch, a firefighter can be heard asking the dispatcher to call for Acadian, a private EMS service that has a mutual aid agreement with Leon Valley.

Nine minutes later, a firefighter asks whether Acadian has been called and the dispatcher replies, "Calling them now."

When asked why it took nine minutes for the EMS request to be made, Leon Valley Police Chief Randall Wallace said there was only one dispatcher on duty that night handling multiple calls.

The city only has one full-time dispatcher. They are looking to hire another. In the meantime, that position is being filled by city staff, said Wallace.

Leon Valley City Manager Manny Longoria, was unavailable for comment about the staffing requirements within the Fire Department or how long it took the dispatcher to call EMS.

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