Bettendorf family pushing for more paid firefighters after son’s death

BETTENDORF, Iowa - People who live on Bettendorf's northeast side say they need a fire station staffed with full-time firefighters and paramedics to help them in emergencies.

Right now, the fire station at Crow Creek Road and Middle Road is staffed by volunteers.

At the city council meeting on August 20, a family who lives just two minutes away from the fire station on Crow Creek Road spoke up after they say they may have lost their son because of the lack of staffing at that fire station.

The Brown family says their son died last month while waiting for an ambulance to take him to the hospital while he suffered an asthma attack in the middle of the night.

Despite living near that station, their call was dispatched to the firefighters and paramedics stationed at the State Street Station in downtown Bettendorf, because the volunteers at the Crow Creek Station were unavailable that night.

The emergency response took more than 10 minutes, and the Brown family now wonders if they could have driven their son to the hospital themselves faster than that.

Several other people who live in their area also spoke up at the city council meeting.

They say they had no idea the station closest to them was a volunteer fire department.

"We did the thing that we were always taught - call 9-1-1," said Rob Brown, the father who lost his son. "We were under the reasonable expectation that the call would be serviced by that station that's very close to our home and that did not happen."

Residents are now concerned that the city continues to develop the northeast part of the city without an ability to quickly respond to emergencies in that area.

City leaders responded during the city council meeting saying that public safety is a top priority.

"We talk about this in goal setting, how we should move forward with the growth of the city," said City Administrator Decker Ploehn. "The fact of the matter is, this was a response from a paid station, in ten minutes, with two paramedics and they gave as good of care as they could give under the circumstance."

As residents spoke, most of them took time to acknowledge the hard work of Bettendorf's first-responders.

The Brown family said they appreciate all that the paid and volunteer firefighters and paramedics do for the city. However, they said a faster response time and more paid-firefighters must be a priority of city leaders.

The family also hopes the city will do more to inform the residents who live near the Crow Creek Fire Station about its status. They say people need to know that the station is staffed by volunteers and that response times may take longer if the volunteers are unavailable.

Of the immediate Quad Cities, Bettendorf currently has the least number of fully-staffed fire stations.

Moline, East Moline, Davenport and Rock Island all have at least double the number of departments staffed by paid-firefighters and paramedics.

Bettendorf has 2 fire departments plus their volunteer department, according to the city's website.

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