DES MOINES, Iowa — The Des Moines Fire Department said it responded to a record number of emergency calls in 2022.
Lieutenant Frank Thomas with the Des Moines Fire Department said they responded to 32,496 calls, up more than 5 percent from last year’s 30,885 calls. Lt. Thomas said that’s about one emergency call every 16 minutes.
A majority of the emergency calls the department responded to were emergency medical services (EMS) calls, not-fire related calls. According to the fire department about 63 percent of emergency calls were for EMS, a majority of which were for mental health and/or drug abuse incidents.
“We have a lot of calls where maybe the patient was released from the hospital because they [the hospital] didn’t have all the rooms open, not that those patients couldn’t go home, but sometimes we get sent to a patient to take them back to the hospital because they had some type of issue,” Lt. Thomas said.
A lot of these calls can be attributed to the lack of mental health and substance abuse resources for patients and a lack of available beds at hospitals, resulting in patients being admitted to the hospital and then being released shortly after with little help, Lt. Thomas said.
According to the fire department, 20,625 emergency calls were for EMS and 964 calls were for fire-related incidents. Of the 11 stations, Fire Station 1 was the busiest in 2022.