A busy but smooth Fourth of July for Sedgwick County 911, official says (2013)

For Sedgwick County 911 dispatchers, it was a busy but smooth July 4, an official said Friday.

But in some scattered instances around the Wichita region, it has been an injurious, destructive holiday span.

During an average 24-hour period, the Sedgwick County 911 system gets about 1,400 calls. But during the period through Thursday, July 4, and until about 3 a.m. Friday, the system took 3,265 calls to 911, or more than double the average number, said Kim Pennington, the system’s interim director. During a particularly busy period over the holiday, from 6:30 p.m. Thursday until 3 a.m. Friday, the system took 2,024 calls to 911 and 490 calls to a non-emergency line set up for the holiday to help keep the system moving smoothly, Pennington said.

There were no reports of people getting busy signals while trying to phone in emergencies, and that is the purpose of the non-emergency line – to take pressure off of the emergency line, she said.

Most calls to the non-emergency line were to report fireworks complaints, and a few calls involved complaints about parties, she said. Most people seemed to know when to call the non-emergency number.

During the holiday period, the 911 system did handle an increase in the number of reported disturbances, domestic violence incidents and reports of drunken driving, she said.

To deal with the expected rise in emergency calls, the system had six extra 911 dispatchers, working overtime, Pennington said.

At four Wesley Medical Center emergency rooms across Wichita, there were 21 total firework injuries reported Thursday and into Friday, but none was serious, a spokeswoman said. Of the 21 fireworks injuries, 10 involved hands; five, faces; three, legs; one, an ear; one, a wrist; and one, an eye.

Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis saw relatively few ER visits this Fourth, and most of them involved people under 18, a spokeswoman said.

One of the most serious incidents in the region involved a 23-year-old man taken in critical condition by air ambulance to a Wichita hospital after a firework reportedly “blew up on him” along a drainage ditch near the State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson late Thursday night, said Hutchinson fire Deputy Chief Michael Miller. The man was initially reported to be unconscious with an injury to his leg, Miller said. The firework involved was illegal in Hutchinson, Miller said.

The injured man was listed in serious condition Friday evening at Via Christi on St. Francis.

In Wichita, fire officials were still gathering information Friday about the events over the holiday, Deputy Chief Tammy Snow said, but so far, she knew of no reports of fireworks injuries that city fire crews responded to.

On Friday afternoon, Sedgwick County fire crews fought a fire that destroyed a home in a Park City mobile home park at 501 E. 63rd North, said Sedgwick County fire Division Chief Daniel Wegner. A fireworks sparkler appears to have started the fire, he said. A woman and two children got out of the home safely.

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