Pictured here from left to right are Rotarian Scott Smith, Director of Evangeline Parish 911 and Office of Emergency Preparedness Liz Hill, and Rotary President Wayne Vidrine. (Gazette photo by Tony Marks)
In case of emergencies and epidemics
Before the new administration takes over, Ville Platte Rotary President Wayne Vidrine presided over his final two meetings as the month of June came to a close.
During last week’s meeting, the Rotary Club heard from Liz Hill, who is the Director of Evangeline Parish 911 and Office of Emergency Preparedness. Hill said that her department dispatches for all of the six fire departments in the parish as well as for the Pine Prairie, Turkey Creek, and Chataignier Police Departments.
“We get between 35 and 40 thousand 911 calls a year,” Hill said. “A lot of them are multiple calls like if there’s a wreck on I-49, on Highway 13, or on Main Street. If we take away the multiple calls and some of the non-emergency calls, then our actual call volume is about 10 thousand calls.”
According to Hill, the number of calls go up depending on the weather, the moon, payroll checks, and income. “It seems that people spend their money more freely on spirits that make them a little bit happier,” she stated. “So, when they get happier, things get a little crazier.”
She also stated that call numbers go up around the holidays when some people are depressed and suicidal. “Unfortunately, we know how when families get together, especially if it’s a large family, there is going to be some kind of disturbance at that family gathering,” Hill said. “Some families seem to be able to handle it better than other families.”
Hill then used examples of some of the calls to illustrate what might not be an emergency to one person may be an emergency to another person.
“We get the occasional cow in road calls which might not seem like an emergency,” she said. “But, if it’s midnight and on Highway 115 and there are no street lights and it’s a black cow, then it could cause some damage to a vehicle.”
She continued, “One of the calls we got recently was when somebody broke into a woman’s house and stole her washing machine with the clothes in it. I think she was more concerned about her clothes than she was about the washing machine. But, even if those kinds of calls might seem humorous, we still have to take all of those calls.”
Hill also talked about this year’s hurricane season forecast, which is expected to be average or slightly higher than average. “All we can do is watch the weather and wait and see because we all know how unpredictable that is,” she stated.
She also told the Rotary Club about new ways that the public can stay prepared. These include Facebook and Twitter pages and E-mail lists. “If we can push information out through social media or E-mails, then it stops people from calling in because people call in and say that their Internet is out,” Hill explained. “People expect 911 to become the catch-all for anything like that. The more information that we can push out, then the less 911 calls we’re going to get. That way we’ll be able to be available for more emergency calls.”
During his last meeting as president this week, Vidrine updated the club on old business that was discussed the night before at the board meeting regarding the new road signs, the unfinished project at Chicot Park, and the beginning of the SLCC-Coreil Campus scholarship. He said, “Those three items will continue on next year.”
Vidrine added, “I just want to say thanks for a great year. It was fun. I had a blast. We got a lot of things done. We look forward to continue the progress that Rotary has made in the past year. I know it’s going to be an exciting year for Richard (LeJeune). He has some really good things planned.”
Rotarian and local dentist Philippe Vidrine then discussed with the club facts and figures about the opioid epidemic following recent mandatory continuing education classes for everyone in the healthcare profession.
“Opioid overdose deaths have quadrupled between the years of 1999 and 2014,” Vidrine reported. “The Journal of American Medicine in 2016 stated that one in five deaths between the ages of 24 and 35 is due to opioids.”
According to Vidrine’s data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the worst part of the country for opioid addiction is the Rust Belt that includes Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. He said, “Louisiana is number 12, so we’re in the top quarter. In 2012, for every 100 residents in Louisiana, 118 scrips were written. Those people are written scripts one month at a time, so they’re written 12 scripts a year.”
Vidrine went on to report, “People respond to drugs differently. For some people, the opioid receptors in their body get tolerant to these opioids, and they require more and more.”
This fact leads to addictions, which in turn, according to Vidrine, leads to abuse of other drugs such as heroine. He said, “Addiction can lead to injectables such as heroine. Seventy-five percent of injection users started with prescriptions.”
Ville Platte Mayor Jennifer Vidrine, who had just taken a drug test, then quipped, “Y’all mayor is drug free.”