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Shifting patterns of emergency incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic in the City of Vaughan, Canada

Adriano O. Solis (Decision Sciences Area, School of Administrative Studies, York University, Toronto, Canada)
Janithra Wimaladasa (Disaster and Emergency Management Program, School of Administrative Studies, York University, Toronto, Canada)
Ali Asgary (Disaster and Emergency Management Program, School of Administrative Studies, York University, Toronto, Canada)
Maryam Shafiei Sabet (Fleming College - Sutherland Campus, Peterborough, Canada)
Michael Ing (Vaughan Fire and Rescue Service, Vaughan, Canada)

International Journal of Emergency Services

ISSN: 2047-0894

Article publication date: 11 August 2021

Issue publication date: 25 March 2022

68

Abstract

Purpose

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many facets of urban life and operations, including emergency incidents. This study examines how COVID-19 has brought about changes in, and shifting patterns of, emergency incidents in the City of Vaughan, Ontario, Canada. This study aims to derive insights that could potentially inform planning and decision-making of fire and rescue service operations as further stages of the pandemic unfold.

Design/methodology/approach

Standard temporal analysis methods are applied to investigate the changes in the number and nature of emergency incidents, as recorded sequentially in the city's fire and rescue service incident report database, through various phases or waves of the pandemic and the associated public health measures that have been introduced.

Findings

The study analyses show a decrease in the number of emergency calls compared to previous reference years. Vehicle-related incidents show the highest decline, and changes in daily and hourly pattens are consistent with public health measures in place during each stage of the pandemic. The study concludes that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on demand for emergency services provided by the fire department.

Originality/value

The authors believe this is the first study applying temporal analysis on a city's emergency incident response data spanning various phases/waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. The analysis may be replicated for other municipal fire services, which can generate further insights that may apply to specific local conditions and states of the pandemic.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research has been conducted with financial support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) as part of its Partnership Engage Grants (PEG) COVID-19 Special Initiative.

The Vaughan Fire and Rescue Service is the partner organization of the York University research team in this effort. The authors are sincerely grateful to VFRS Fire Chief Andrew Zvanitajs, Deputy Fire Chief Mike Doyle, Deputy Fire Chief Robert Grimwood, Deputy Fire Chief Grant Moffatt, Fire Inspector Kevin Plested, Communications Supervisor Andrea Alexander, and other VFRS staff for their support and participation. The authors also thank Deryn Rizzi, currently Fire Chief and Director of Emergency Management at the City of Mississauga, for having affirmed to SSHRC in 2020 the participation of VFRS as a partner organization in this PEG COVID-19 Special Initiative when she was VFRS Fire Chief.

Citation

Solis, A.O., Wimaladasa, J., Asgary, A., Sabet, M.S. and Ing, M. (2022), "Shifting patterns of emergency incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic in the City of Vaughan, Canada", International Journal of Emergency Services, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 1-37. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJES-05-2021-0024

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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