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COVID-19 leads to a decline in calls for CHP, Cal Fire; agencies helping out in other departments

Posted at 7:17 PM, Mar 30, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and stay at home orders have had an impact on local emergency response agencies, which are now seeing a decrease in calls for help.

The stay at home order in effect means fewer people out on the roads, and in the San Luis Obispo area, the California Highway Patrol is reporting a 40% decrease in traffic collisions as a result.

"The good side of a lot less traffic is the fact that with that, we're having a direct correlation with a lot fewer traffic collisions. The California Highway Patrol here in San Luis Obispo is noticing a 40% decrease in traffic crashes as a result of that," said Mike Poelking, CHP Public Information Officer.

CHP isn't the only department in San Luis Obispo County seeing a drop in incidents due to restrictions from COVID-19.

"We've seen a little bit of a decrease in our call volume with medical aids, but we're still averaging 30-40 medical aids a day. I would say motor vehicle accidents is where we're seeing the most decrease," said Greg Alex, CAL FIRE Deputy Fire Chief.

The coronavirus pandemic hasn't only resulted in a decline in calls, but it's allowed for the members of CAL FIRE to step in and help in other roles, such as assisting the county's emergency operations center and department of public health.

"The roles we've been playing are deputy operations, a lot in the planning section and situation units and just helping them organize their plan and getting supplies and items in that are needed for the alternate care center that's going up," said Alex.

When the emergency operations center is activated, CAL FIRE has been there to help in the past, with floods, fire, and now COVID-19.

"They need resources and people to do the plans and the extra workload that's needed to set the objectives and meet the operational goals of getting out to the homeless, getting shelters in place, how to handle the homeless, all those different scenarios," said Alex.

While crashes have declined, CHP says they're now getting reports of drivers speeding into the triple digits and are focused on keeping those situations from happening.