Shelton EMS discusses effects of Bridgeport Ave. developments

The chief of Shelton’s Echo Hose Volunteer EMS, Michael Chaffee said he’s been monitoring updates on the Towne Center at Shelter Ridge application and his department is ready to adapt to whatever development is approved for the 121-acre piece of land on Bridgeport Avenue.

Over the past several weeks there has been a debate within the city’s fire department as to whether its services would be affected by the proposed mixed-use development that would be built on Bridgeport Avenue.

Shelton fire Chief Francis Jones said his department will not be affected and will make whatever adjustments are necessary to protect the residents and new tenants of the development.

Chief Chaffee agreed with Chief Jones.

“It’s not going to affect us and what we do,” said Chaffee. “If we have to put up more units or volunteers, then that’s fine; we will adapt as we need to for the sake of the city.

“With any development, we need to learn about it. We need to know how to enter and exit, we need to learn the best way to get tenants or residents out, and things like that. The routes to get there quickly and so on are all parts of our regular training when we have a new development in the city. We’ve had several other developments come in within the past few years, such as other retail, nursing homes and residential units. We’ve adapted as we’ve received any increase in call volume.”

Chaffee said part of the department’s adjustments could include looking for more volunteers, but at this time it’s too early to determine whether that will be necessary.

“If we see a spike in call volume or we see a lot of calls coming from there, we may have to adjust our staffing models. They’re adding 400 units, which doesn’t mean they’re adding 400 units full of sick people, so you can’t pinpoint how exactly the new tenants will impact call volume. People leave our town, too, but we keep a close eye on the population so we’re ready to make any shifts necessary. We’ve been around since 1949 and we plan on being here a lot longer. Making these adjustments is a part of the job and part of protecting the community. “We’ve been seeing developments for years, so this is what we prepare for, we take the changes in stride.”

The former chief of Echo Hose Ambulance from 2004 to 2009, state Rep. Jason Perillo (R-113) said he has openly opposed the Shelter Ridge development since it first appeared in front of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission last year.

“In my opinion it does not add value to life in Shelton for residents, and the traffic concerns are significant,” said Perillo.

He added that he believes the city’s EMS service will end up responding to more calls as a result of the development, should it be approved, but that the number could decrease again over time.

“Medical emergencies are driven by the number of people in a community and, in general, the age of the community,” said Perillo. “Whenever you add additional residents, you also add the additional needs and calls for emergency medical care. In EMS we don’t necessarily use a formula to calculate additional calls as a result of a development, but it’s very clear that when you add residents you see an increase in emergency calls. Those numbers usually smooth out over time.”