DE PERE, Wis. (WFRV)-- A De Pere woman whose daughter was recently in a car accident believes recent budget cuts prevented the proper fire and rescue response.
Toni Etter credits the De Pere fire department for saving her oldest daughters life three years ago when she had a medical emergency.
"They were there right away and because of that I feel like that saved her life," said Etter.
It was about a week ago when her youngest daughter, seven months pregnant, was in a car crash in De Pere and had to be taken to the hospital.
"I called to thank the rescue squad for taking her to the hospital and found out it wasn't the De Pere rescue squad that took her to the hospital, it was a different ambulance that came from a different community," said Etter.
Etter says the fire department told her there wasn't enough staff to send a fire truck and the two ambulances which was needed.
"My daughter who is expecting her first child in June was left sitting on the curb and gutter in De Pere, waiting for another ambulance," said Etter.
When we asked De Pere fire Chief Bob Kiser about the accident he said they had six fire men on-duty when usually they have nine. One firemen was on furlough that day.
It wasn't just the furloughs that effected the staffing but what's called "call backs" and back staffing, which would require fire men to be called in when the entire crew is called out.
Call Backs were cut in the recent De Pere budget and because of that the department sits empty if all of the on-duty firemen are called out. They would have to call another municipality if there was another call or more people needed.
While he wouldn't go on camera, Chief Kiser released a statement saying,
"If we had the same staff as we did in 2011 they, we would have had an ambulance there and that the station has seen an effect brought on by furloughs and reduction in back filling stations."
Etter is thankful her daughters situation wasn't as severe, but wonder's what if it was.
"The ambulance did come but my issue is what if it had been a life or death situation," said Etter.
De Pere city administrator Larry Delo would not do an interview about the issue, but he did say that in Mrs. Etter's daughters case, the response time was not affected, and it was not all that uncommon for six firemen to be staffed at any one time in the past.
Delo said last year, 25% of the time there was only six firemen on at any one time.
The furlough days will have all be completed by the end of this month, and the city did re-instate the paid on calls.
The De Pere Fire Dept. Union said that the "Call Backs" need to be re-instated, that it is a safety issue.
Etter does plan to take this issue up with the city. She plans to address them at the city council meeting, April 4 and hopes others will join her.