News Saugatuck/Douglas Commercial Record

Emergency calls down 4.1 percent last year

By Scott Sullivan


The Saugatuck Township Fire District — which serves Douglas and Saugatuck cities in addition to the township — responded to 981 calls last year, down 4.1 percent from 2022’s record 1,023.

 Among them, emergent (Priority 1 or 2, involving lights and sirens) calls totaled 430. Average response time was six minutes, two seconds, similar to 2022’s 5:57 average.

Thursdays through Saturdays were busiest, with between 152 to 159 responses per day between them. Other days garnered between 119 to 140 calls.

Largely daylight hours from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. were busier than their 12-hour counterparts.

Overlapping calls, meaning two or more crews dispatched at the same time, depleting resources, numbered 326 last year, figures show.

Emergency medical service (EMS) calls were, as usual, the most frequent responses with 566, close to 60 percent, of those handled. Falls (141) accounted for 24 percent of them. General sickness (65, or 11 percent) came next.

Motor vehicle accidents also declined with 57 in 2023, down from 62 the prior year.

Blue Star Highway — the district’s main north-south road with its Kalamazoo River-crossing bridge — has seen just one wreck at the intersection of Old Allegan Road since fall 2021 when, after a rash of accidents earned it the dubious “Crash Corner” nickname, a flashing stop sign and digital speed signs were installed there. 

The township, with help from Allegan County, plans to install a roundabout there this spring.

The STFD has tracked 267 total accidents along 28 Blue Star intersections within its jurisdiction since 1999, with the most-frequent sites shown in the chart above.

Of the three municipalities the fire district serves, Saugatuck Township (including I-196) accounted for 388 (43 percent) of last year’s 981 calls. Not surprising, given its 2020 population of 3,443 and 24.5 square miles far exceed its neighbor cities.

Saugatuck city (population 865, 1.77 square miles) amassed 266 calls (29 percent), Douglas (population 1,378, 2.01 square miles) 256 or (28 percent) of total calls.

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