Volunteer EMTs, Police Department already feeling the strain

Sun, 07/19/2020 - 2:00pm
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Blunt talk from two of the island's top first responders.

It may only be the middle of July, but Rescue Squad Capt. Tracy Fredericks said her small staff of EMTs was “run ragged” on Saturday with constant calls to accidents and injuries between 2 p.m. and 4 a.m. She said a Coast Guard boat came over at 4 a.m. to help with a situation.

“I think it's just really out of control,” said Fredericks to The Block Island Times on Sunday, July 19. “There are too many people here.”

Police Chief Vin Carlone said that this weekend one of his officers was bitten by someone being taken into custody, and that the injury required stitches.

Carlone sent out a message to Gov. Gina Raimondo, who limited crowds at two state beaches last week, to consider the impact those mainland decisions have on Block Island.

“She needs to be sensitive to the fact that we can’t take the overflows,” said Carlone, who also spoke to The Times on Sunday.

Carlone was also sharply critical of mainland parents who he said were allowing groups of young teens to come to the island without adult supervision. “We're not babysitters,” he said. “It's absurd.”

“We don’t have the staff for this, if this is the way the island is going to go,” said Carlone “We have the staff for a family-oriented place. We don’t have the staff for the kind of people we're seeing.”

“We had calls all over the spectrum yesterday,” said Fredericks. She said she has a small staff of six key volunteer EMTs that go on all calls, and group of four more who do what they can. She stressed how professional and capable they all are. Fredericks also said the local volunteers were bolstered by two members of a non-profit Disaster Medical Assistance Team, whose help, she said, was “amazing and appreciated.”

There were two incidents at the Block Island State Airport where two separate planes experienced difficulties with their landing gear. She also said the number of people the EMTs were seeing who had been overdrinking alcohol was concerning.

Carlone, for his part, said he has appealed for more State Troopers to come out. He did say that an intern was coming to the island to assist the New Shoreham Police Department in a social media campaign about the necessity to wear masks in public.

The chief also felt the island was seeing so many young people due to what he called “stimulus package money” — unemployed young people who were provided an additional $600 in their unemployment benefits during the lockdown. Those checks are expected to end next week.

He said that so far this weekend, “three officers have been assaulted. Confrontations all over the place. No one wants to listen. If this keeps up, there will be a bad encounter out here.”

“I'm worried about things,” said Fredericks, who was amazed that during the pandemic the atmosphere actually seemed “crazier than usual.”

She added, “Shouldn't there be less craziness?”