Why Does The Fire Department Respond?

(FIREFIGHTER STORY) – One of the questions we get quite often is why we send “big red” on medical calls. After all, isn’t that what ambulances are for? Isn’t that a waste of fuel/time/resources for a simple medical call?

Before I answer these questions let me just say that fire engines don’t respond to medical calls all around the country. Every area has a slightly different system in place. I am going to talk about my system (since it’s what I know best).

Where I work we have a private ambulance company that responds to and transports patients to the hospital a la AMR/Westmed/Rural Metro.. They are usually staffed with one paramedic and one EMT. They have, under their company’s contract with the county, between 8 and 10 minutes to respond to critical EMS calls depending on where the call is (more rural locations have longer time allowances). 

So why does the fire department respond to medical calls?

First off, state law in California requires two paramedics to respond to medical emergencies. Some places do that by staffing two medics on the ambulance. We do it by staffing one on the ambulance and one of the fire engine/truck. Every engine and truck in the county in which I work is staffed with at least one paramedic.

So why do we choose this method instead of staffing the ambulance with two medics and letting just the private ambulance respond? 

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