Rescue Captain: This summer Block Island is ‘scary and dangerous’

Town Council to meet with first responders on Wednesday
Mon, 07/27/2020 - 11:00am

UPDATE: First Warden Ken Lacoste has scheduled a meeting with the island’s first responders on Wednesday, July 29 to seek solutions on how to manage crowd control on Block Island.

Another unquiet weekend for the Block Island Volunteer Rescue Squad.

A man walking with this family on High Street near Ebbet’s Hollow was hit by a moped on Sunday and injured so badly he had to be flown off island, along with two other people involved in that one crash. There were four life flights on Sunday.

Rescue Squad Capt. Tracy Fredericks told The Block Island Times that she continues to be “concerned and worried” about the sheer number of people coming to the island and behaving badly.

Her small group of volunteer EMTs is “exhausted. There’s no way to get a break.” By the time the crew has washed down and sanitized an ambulance after a call they’re out on another.

The kinds of calls the rescue squad sees runs the gamut from people injuring themselves by jumping off the piers in Old Harbor to overdrinking to accidents. The town ambulances were “going all day long” over the weekend, she said.

“It’s the sheer number of people and the type of clientele coming out. This is not a community. This is a playground. It’s insane. It’s not welcoming to our visitors. It’s scary and dangerous.” Fredericks said on Monday, July 27.

Also: “Every single call we go on there is the possibility of infection” of Covid-19, she said. At scenes of medical emergencies there are people standing around not wearing masks. She asks that they put one on whether they know the person requiring attention or not.

“The Medical Center is overwhelmed, too,” she said.

Fredericks said she is not complaining, either for herself or her crew. “They’re dedicated. They’re great,” she said. But what she wants is for people to know what is going on and what she is looking for are solutions as to how to manage these crowds.

She’s also aware that people who live on Block Island year-round no longer want to leave their homes. “They’re not having a summer,” she said.

Bringing over more rescue personnel is not necessarily the answer, said Fredericks. While she is grateful for any assistance the rescue crew receives, having adjunct EMTs come to the island doesn’t really relieve her crew. Since they are not insured they can’t drive the ambulances and also a local EMT has to be with them just to show them where to go.

It isn’t just going on calls that takes up time. Each rescue call requires “ a ton of paperwork,” she said. Some calls can go on for hours.

Fredericks said she has been on the phone with members of the Town Council looking for ideas, and people have been calling her constantly asking for ways in which they can help.