DFEMS: Pandemic scare leads to more ambulance calls


The Department of Fire and Medical Services saw an increase in calls for ambulance services due to COVID-19 pandemic fears, according to DFEMS Commissioner Dennis James Mendiola.

Speaking before the House Ways and Means Committee hearing for the DFEMS budget last Thursday, Mendiola said there’s been an increase in ambulance response because there are a lot of people who are just “kind of worried and freaked out” when there’s a flu in the family.

“They believe it’s COVID, so ome calls are not really an emergency,” he said in response to Rep. Christina E. Sablan (D-Saipan).

Sablan also asked if DFEMS responds to a lot of complaints about illegal burning, to which Mendiola replied that they have not received many complaints about this. He said there is one that is under investigation, but that he can’t really comment on it.

“It might turn out into illegal burning. But other than that, no, we did not see too much of illegal burning this year,” he said.

Sablan then asked about the fire code inspection, noting that DFEMS’ collections from this service has dropped significantly. Mendiola agreed that their collections were impacted significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic because they don’t go out and do inspections anymore. He said they had to shut down a division that deals with fire code inspections.

The commissioner, however, disclosed that their inspectors have been quite busy lately as some businesses are starting to open up and want to renew their fire code permits. This has resulted in DFEMS is starting to get some collections, he said.

In response to Rep. Sheila Babauta’s (D-Saipan) question if DFEMS currently has an academy for fire cadets, Mendiola said they are in the process of starting the academy that includes Tinian and Rota.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
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