Pohlmann named firefighter of the year

The Superstition Fire and Medical District has recognized the service of David Pohlmann by naming the fire captain/paramedic as its 2015 firefighter of the year.

Growing up in the East Valley, Capt. Pohlmann attended Tempe High School where he was a member of the National Honor Society and four-year varsity letterman. He was awarded most valuable person for the swim team during his junior and senior years, setting a city of Tempe record in the 500 freestyle, according to a press release.

In 1989 he was a member of a National Junior Olympic championship gold-medalist relay team. The same year, he headed to California on a scholarship to the University of California Irvine, where he was “rookie of the year, setting a school record in the 1000-yard freestyle and achieving Top 10 All Time Honors in three other events.
In 1992 he attended Arizona State University on a scholarship where he completed his formal swimming career.

Capt. Pohlmann was involved in martial arts where he learned and taught for more than a decade, achieving the rank of third degree black belt. His passion for swimming brought him back to the pool, where in 2011 he became the Arizona state champion in three events in the 40-45 age groups, narrowly missing a top 10 national ranking in the 100 freestyle.

Capt. Pohlmann began working as an emergency medical technician for Southwest Ambulance in 1996 and attained his paramedic in 1998. He achieved a long-time goal of becoming a firefighter/paramedic. He was hired with the Superstition Fire and Medical District in 1999 (then the Apache Junction Fire District) as a firefighter paramedic.
Since that time, he has continually grown and developed into a valuable asset and resource for the organization and entire EMS community, according to the release.

Superstition Fire and Medical District begins providing emergency patient transportation

Superstition Fire and Medical District began a historic new service to the area starting on Monday, Jan. 4. With the addition of five new ambulances into its fleet of state-of-the-art emergency rescue equipment, SFMD paramedics and EMTs will be responding to calls where the transport of critical patients is needed. Less critical, or low-acuity medical transports, will continue to be provided by Southwest Ambulance.

Southwest Ambulance has provided all ambulance service to the citizens of the fire district for the past two decades. But as Fire Chief Paul Bourgeois explains, the environment has changed and it’s opened the door for a new partnership and new service delivery model for the SFMD.

“There is a basic expectation everyone in our community should have – to be transported to an appropriate medical destination in a timely manner when you call 911,” said Chief Bourgeois. “In this new system, we will retain care of our most critical sick and injured patients all the way to the hospital, providing a more efficient and effective service to our community.”

SFMD successfully worked with Rural-Metro Corp., Southwest Ambulance’s parent company, to develop a ground-breaking Memorandum of Understanding to capture the spirit and intent of this arrangement.

“The MOU helps to stabilize and strengthen our relationship with Rural-Metro,” said Chief Bourgeois.

SFMD staff was able to present a cost model showing conservatively that the new ambulance service will be fully self-sustaining in three to four years, with total investment recovery and positive revenue within four to five years.

“Our finance division worked very hard to show the Department of Health Services that this will be a benefit to our community,” said Chief Bourgeois.

Fire district: Be cautious when using fireworks for the holiday

Every holiday season thousands of people, most often children and teens, are injured while using fireworks. In a typical year, fireworks account for two out of five of all reported fires during the July 4th and New Year’s holidays. Each year there are 10s of thousands of fires started through the mishandling of consumer fireworks. These fires result in millions of dollars in direct property damage. Fires caused by careless handling can burn dry brush and grass and spread to nearby structures with devastating speed.

In the last five years on average, nearly 9,000 fireworks-related injuries were treated each year in U.S. hospital emergency rooms, with 89 percent of those injuries involving fireworks that federal regulations permit consumers to use. Sparklers, fountains and novelty items alone accounted for one-third of emergency room fireworks injuries. Each year an average of three-four people per year are killed in fires started by fireworks.

Most burn injuries involve children ages 5 to 9 and largely affect the eyes and hands. Sparklers are the biggest danger to children. The temperature at the end of the sparkler reaches 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and can easily cause serious third-degree burns.

Not all fireworks are legal in Arizona. Any device that flies into the air, such as bottle rockets, shell and tube devices, aerials and firecrackers, are all prohibited in the state. Leave these types of fireworks to the professionals. Only those with special licenses and certifications are allowed to possess fireworks for controlled displays. Do not bring fireworks from other states or Mexico into Arizona. This is illegal and can result in a Class 1 misdemeanor and a hefty fine.

Here is a list of Arizona “state-approved” firework items: Handheld sparkling devices, ground-mounted devices such as cylindrical fountains, cone fountains, multi-tube fountains, illuminating torches, wheels, ground spinners, flitter sparklers, toy smoke devices, and wire sparklers/dipped stick sparklers; and novelties such as party poppers, snap caps, snakes and glow worms. For a comprehensive list of legal novelty and non-aerial consumer fireworks, you can go to the Superstition Fire and Medical District website to link to lists and pictures of both legal and illegal fireworks.

Remember, pets can also easily be burned or injured by fireworks. Each year after New Year’s Eve, local animal shelters are inundated with runaway pets that are frightened and disoriented by the noise and sight of fireworks. Make sure that you and your children celebrate safely by following all of the safety tips. Citizens who wish to report illegal use of fireworks should call 9-1-1.

Superstition Fire & Medical: Financial crisis affects fire districts across Arizona

When someone calls 911 for a fire or medical emergency, there is a fundamental expectation that a crew of firefighter/paramedics will show up and take care of their needs. This expectation holds true for over 1.5 million residents across Arizona residing in rural fire districts. Arizona’s 156 fire districts are served by more than 4,000 highly-trained firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians. In 2013, fire districts across the state responded to 153,000 emergency calls, providing professional life-saving services.
Ask any Arizona fire district chief today if they think they can maintain the levels of service their respective citizens have come to expect and they will likely tell you in one voice – No. The main reason they say, restrictive legislation. After the “Great Recession,” every fire district encountered a devastating economic crisis that caused assessed home values to plummet some 45 percent.
At about the same time, Arizona voters went to the polls and passed a very controversial law in Proposition 117. Prop. 117 claimed it would restrict annual fire district revenue growth to 5 percent. About the same time, county assessors throughout the state began calculating property values differently. This “Triple-Whammy” devastated many Arizona fire districts and forced one-third of the 156 fire districts in the state to the maximum tax rate cap of $3.25 per $100 of assessed value.
Funded primarily by property taxes based on the Net Assessed Valuation of properties in their boundaries, these drastic changes have created a dire situation in which fire districts are trying to meet today’s increasing demand for services with pre-recession funding. Some speculate that with these regulations in place, most fire districts will not recover back to 2009-10 funding levels until sometime closer to 2028-29.

Fire district, active adult center employees to attend conference about elderly falls prevention

Superstition Fire and Medical District and the Apache Junction Active Adult Center have been selected as winners of the 2015 NFPA Remembering When Scholarship.

Tina Gerola, fire and life safety specialist at SFMD, and Terry Crawford, director of the Apache Junction Active Adult Center, will attend a training conference on fire and fall prevention sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association.

The conference, Remembering When: A Fire and Fall Prevention Program for Older Adults, is being held Nov. 4-6. NFPA has selected teams from 30 communities across the United States and Canada to travel to Orlando, Florida for the training.

All teams are composed of at least one member of a fire department partnered with an individual from an agency within the community that serves older adults. Each award covers training, materials and travel expenses, and is valued at more than $4,000.

Following the conference, the team will return to their community and conduct group presentations and training sessions to prepare additional facilitators. Team members will also personalize the Remembering When messages during home visits and help older adults identify changes that will increase home safety.

Academy in November geared to women interested in fire service careers

Superstition Fire and Medical District is inviting females 16 and older who may have an interest in fire service or emergency medical careers to participate in a three-day academy to be held on Saturday, Nov. 7; Sunday, Nov. 8, and Saturday, Nov. 14.
The program will run from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day at the SFMD Regional Training Academy, 3700 E. 16th Ave. in Apache Junction.
Camp F.I.R.E.S. (Females In Rescue Emergency Services) is an exciting, new program geared specifically to expose girls and women to leadership and problem solving skills, basic firefighting skills, emergency medical skills and CPR. Amy Brooks, the program’s coordinator and a captain/paramedic with SFMD, is optimistic about this new program.
“We are excited about this opportunity for girls and women in our community to be exposed to fire and emergency medical services and to SFMD,” she said. “Women shouldn’t be discouraged or think they can’t do very well as a firefighter. As the nature of what we do and how we do it has evolved, the need for more female firefighters is evident.”

AJ’s Gerola named Arizona Fire and Burn Educator of the Year

Ask any child who has attended school here in Apache Junction who “Miss Tina” is and they will quickly tell you that she is the one who taught them about fire safety. From pre-school through high school, Miss Tina — that’s Tina Gerola, fire and life safety specialist with the Superstition Fire and Medical District — has helped educate thousands of youngsters about Stop, Drop and Roll.

Our senior adult population around the community knows Miss Tina very well too. Her safety lessons for older adults are a hot commodity when winter time rolls around.

On Thursday, Sept. 10, as part of the opening ceremonies for the Arizona State Fire School, Mrs. Gerola was announced as the State of Arizona Fire and Burn Educator of the Year.

Each year the Arizona Fire and Burn Educators Association selects a fire and life safety educator of the year for the state. Nominated individuals were required to have made significant contributions to fire and life safety education, demonstrated outstanding work as an educator, be successful in increasing public awareness about safety issues, serve as a positive role model in their community, earned achievements in the fire and life safety field, and exhibit a commitment to excellence in their educational efforts.