Mario H. Treviño has been the chief of Las Vegas Fire & Rescue since 1996. He has 28 years of experience in the fire service, having previously served with the Seattle Fire Department, where he rose through the ranks to the level of deputy fire chief. Treviño graduated summa cum laude from Seattle...
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Firehouse: How about the water supply? Everybody talks about the area as a desert. It is a desert, and water rights are an issue. I know from being out in the new Station 7 that all of a sudden all these thousands of homes are popping up. Is the water supply adequate? Do you anticipate any other problems or are they going to utilize more water from the Colorado River for Las Vegas than it had been in the past?
Treviño: You're right, water is the single critical issue to growth. And as far as additional water from Lake Mead, yes, that is actually a reality. They've added what they call a "second straw," which is a large-diameter pipeline for water supply, from Lake Mead and from what I'm told that will handle even the growth that we have for the next 10 years without any difficulty.
And beyond that arrangements and agreements have been made with the neighboring states, California and Arizona, to maintain water supply even beyond that, so there doesn't seem to be any concern about water, even though, as you said, this is a desert and without water everything stops.
The interesting thing about the area, and especially I can say this coming from an area like Seattle, I can tell you that my water bill in Las Vegas is less expensive than my water bill was in Seattle, where we were know for rain and clouds. It's an unusual situation.
Firehouse: Could you describe the department's involvement with EMS transporting and paramedics?
Treviño: We are prioritizing EMS more now than ever in the past. In fact, in January of 1999 we initiated an EMS transport system, which had never been done by the fire department in the past.
Typically, the way the system worked before was that the fire department was almost invariably the first responder. We provided EMTs, EMTIs and paramedics and we would arrive at the scene. We would extricate the patient, if necessary. We would rescue the patient. We would evaluate, stabilize and package the patient and then hand the patient off to a private ambulance for transport. And, frankly, sometimes they would be first on scene and they would cancel us if we weren't needed.
The change has been with us doing a percentage of the transports. We made arrangements and agreements with the ambulance provider that in certain kinds of calls we don't dispatch an ambulance at all. And in fact we do dispatching for the ambulance company as well from this office.
The best example I can give you is automobile accidents when working with AMR, which is currently the only provider in the Las Vegas Valley. We now respond solely to automobile accidents. And the reason for that is simple. The automobile accidents tend to be a little bit more dangerous than a standard EMS call. There's a lot of propensity for fuel spillage, for fires, for the necessity to extricate patients, as you know, with rescue tools. And that's very much a fire department function.
And the thought was if we do all those things, we need to be on the scene, we may as well just finish it up and do the transport. What that does is free up the private ambulance company to respond on the next call and that's worked very well for us.
EMS in general has just become a very high priority. We don't expect that we'll be going the other way. I think as a time goes on, we will even continue more to focus on EMS because I think like most fire departments a good 80% of what we do is EMS.
Firehouse: Are you working to do whatever you can to bring in new technology to make it easier for any of the forces?
Treviño: Yes. We're very technologically inclined and I think that the reason for that has been over the past, I would say, decade we haven't grown in numbers as much as would like to, so we have become increasingly dependent on technology, whether that's dispatch or communications technology, or whether it's efficiency and safety-type items such as the thermal imaging cameras, we rely heavily on technology. We're going to continue to do that.
We're almost constantly field testing new products, everything from apparatus to clothing to uniform items. We're incorporated the automated PASS devices. We use the thermal imagers. Our bomb squad is very well equipped. We changed over to 800 megahertz radios, which I know is not necessarily cutting edge in communications systems, but it's been a big change around here.