Sep 22, 2019

Number of first responders drops amid growing frequency of natural disasters

Photo: Getty Images/Stevecoleimages

A higher frequency of natural disasters in the U.S. is putting a strain on first responders who are already grappling with lower staff numbers, AP reports.

The big picture: While the population of career firefighters has increased in recent years, approximately two-thirds of the United States' 30,000 fire departments are made up of volunteers. Per the National Volunteer Fire Council, the number of volunteer firefighters has dropped from 814,850 to 682,600 over the past 4 years.

  • "The bottom line is that people have a lot less time than they used to," Natalie Simpson, an operations management professor at University at Buffalo, told the AP.

The number of calls to emergency fire departments is also on the rise, according to the National Fire Protection Association Survey. With that has come higher expectations and standards for the types of services firefighters must provide.

  • Per the AP: "Both career and volunteer firefighters are now trained in emergency medical services and multihazard responses. It’s rare that they respond to actual fires, and even rarer to a natural disaster. Still, experts say they need to be prepared."

Between the lines: Climate change doesn't cause natural disasters to occur, but it's an aggravator factor in extreme weather events such as hurricanes and heatwaves.

Go deeper: How climate change affects our weather

Go deeper

Teenager killed after shots fired at protesters in Detroit

Detroit police during protests on Friday night. Photo: Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images

A 19-year-old man was killed on Friday night after shots were fired into a crowd of demonstrators in downtown Detroit who were protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, per AP.

Details: The teenager was injured when shots were fired from an SUV about 11:30 p.m. and later died in hospital, reports MDN reports, which noted police were still looking for a suspect. Police said officers were not involved in the shooting, according to AP.

Go deeper: In photos: Protesters clash with police nationwide over George Floyd

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: Protesters clash with police nationwide over George Floyd

Police officers grapple with protesters in Atlanta. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Police used tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray as the protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd spread nationwide on Friday evening.

The big picture: Police responded in force in cities ranging from Atlanta to Des Moines, Houston to Detroit, Milwaukee to D.C. and Denver to Louisville. In Los Angeles, police declared a stretch of downtown off limits, with Oakland issuing a similar warning.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court sides with California on coronavirus worship service rules

The Supreme Court has ruled 5-4, with Chief Justice John Roberts joining the court's liberal justices, to reject a challenge to California's pandemic restrictions on worship services.

Why it matters: This is a setback for those seeking to speed the reopening of houses of worship, including President Trump.