Howell rescues diner at downtown restaurant

GFD report: one man accounts for 105 service calls so far

Published on Tuesday, March 31, 2015

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Carl Howell, Greer Fire Department Deputy Fire Marshal, came to the aid of a customer needing help at the Greer Station Cafe Tuesday.

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Carl Howell, Greer Fire Department Deputy Fire Marshal, came to the aid of a customer needing help at the Greer Station Cafe Tuesday.



• 2014 Greer Fire Department Report

Carl Howell was eating lunch at the Greer Station Café Tuesday afternoon when a customer summoned his help. “I need you,” the person told Howell.

“I was talking with another lady about raising money for our annual Greer Oldies reunion,” Howell said. At that moment, Howell, Greer Fire Department Deputy Fire Marshal, was in the right place at the right time.

A woman had passed out and Howell helped stabilize her while an EMS transported her to the hospital.

“All her vital signs were stable and she was able to talk to us,” Howell said.

It was business as usual for Howell. “We have a job to do and it can be trying at times,” he said.

Howell’s response follows by one week GFD Chief Harvey’s annual report to City Council, which described one physically, disabled resident, a 42-year-old man, accounting for 58 percent of the department’s service calls for assistance.

The concern, Harvey told council is that the past two years, the calls become almost routine and fire department personnel need to respond to more urgent calls. The past two years service calls to the one man reflect:

• 105 of the 229 service calls in 2014, 68 percent, were to assist the man

• 83 of the 114 calls recorded at the time of the report, 58 percent were to assist the man.

The man, who is reportedly sane by Department of Social Services standards, according to Harvey, threatens to interfere with more urgent calls. Service calls are not high priority but Harvey said each call mandates at least two personnel to respond.

"It's creating an issue for service to the community," Harvey said. "We're very understanding about his situation and have tried to address it with alternative means, what can be done. Ultimately, if we stop doing the assistance calls, there's a hole that I don't know that (council) want the department to make."

Harvey said the man only wants assistance to return to his bed when he has fallen and refuses help from the medical personnel.

"We've just not been able to get the resources we need to convince the individual that he needs to go other places and be taken care of properly, because he is sane and able to make his own decisions," Harvey said. "There is some home healthcare available, but it's not there 24 hours a day. It's really starting to tax the resources of the department."

Lee Dumas, as bewildered as other council members, asked Harvey if other agencies have been asked for a remedy and Harvey said none appears legal.

The 2014 annual report was Harvey’s final as he is scheduled to retire May 1. Some highlights:

• $1.7 million property loss from the Riverwood Farms fire, biggest of 2014. “A result of that fire is homeowners associations and neighborhoods are talking about landscaping design so there’s not another fire like that,” Harvey said. High winds, dry pine needles served as the fuel for the quick traveling fire that threatened an entire subdivision.

• Crews rescued four victims from the Memorial Drive Extension Bridge washout. It is undergoing repairs.

• $62,000 damage to the department’s aerial truck. City paid $37,000 when driver causing the damage only had $25,000 liability.

• 2,457 call volume, with 1,635 for rescue and EMS

• $,8,159 raised through fire marshal department, permit fees, inspections, certificate of occupation, etc.

• Special recognition honored Lt. Norris and Engineer Wilson for Life Saving Award, Chief Harvey for Duke Energy City of the Year Award, Spartanburg County Firefighter Hall of Fame and South Carolina Firefighter Hall of Fame. Harvey was recognized last month in the general assembly.





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