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updated: 7/11/2012 11:53 PM

Rivers Casino plans to provide its own EMTs

New EMTs may lighten load for police, firefighters

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Des Plaines may soon see a decrease in the numbers of police and fire calls from the Rivers Casino, officials said Wednesday during a public safety committee meeting.

Nearly a year since the Rivers Casino opened in Des Plaines, the city's public safety departments have fielded 1,467 police and 232 fire-related calls from Aug. 1 through June 30, officials said.

Fire Chief Alan Wax said the Rivers Casino is in the process of getting state approval to provide its own emergency medical services that would significantly reduce the burden on the fire department.

In the past year, the fire department has responded to between 20 and 22 calls on average per month -- with the exception of October, May and June -- at the casino, officials said. Of the 232 calls, 38 percent required advance life support, 21 percent were for basic life support, and in another 38 percent of cases patients refused treatment.

Wax said casino officials expect to have at least two emergency medical technicians on duty per shift that can handle first aid and other basic emergency treatments that don't require transportation to a hospital, as well as enter medical reports and charts into a computer system and sign patient releases.

"Roughly 35 to 37 percent of the calls we respond to, we won't have to go out on," Wax said. "We will be reducing the numbers once the casino's EMTs come online. If it's a minor call, they'll be able to sign the release themselves. If the people need to go to the hospital, they are going to call us."

Wax was hopeful that state approval of the casino's EMS status would come within a few weeks.

Acting Police Chief Mike Kozak said a majority of the 1,467 calls the police department responded to at the casino were responses for criminal trespass. Police officers aided fire department personnel in 210 calls, and 111 calls were for providing casino patrons assistance with lockouts.

Police also responded to 110 complaints about intoxicated individuals, and five assaults.

In all, police response to calls from the casino represented 2.4 percent of the total number of calls, or 61,000, the department handled citywide during the same time period, Kozak said.

"That kind of puts it into perspective," Kozak said. "It's not a big volume."

Both departments, especially fire, derive financial benefit from certain calls, but neither could quantify the revenues Wednesday.

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