1. #1
    Firehouse.com Editor

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    Mar 2009

    Default What level of EMS response does your FD provide?

    Some say that fire departments are being saved by the growing need for emergency medical services in their communities. Others will say it hurt the FD based on the type, such as volunteers who need to have more EMS training and respond to an increased call volume.

    Here is a story that we posted today about an Okla. Fire Department that is going to begin what looks like BLS first response in the coming months.

    Oklahoma Fire Department Will Begin EMS Response

    The Sallisaw Fire Department plans to join the Sequoyah County Emergency Medical Response Agency which will allow them to work under the supervision and review of a physician medical director and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, which sets the standards, fire department Captain Jerry Hetherington said. There is no cost to join the agency, and Sallisaw could opt out at any time, Hetherington said.

    Fire Chief Anthony Armstrong said the calls would be limited to basic emergency care such as controlling bleeding and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. He said the department had tried to avoid medical calls, but "we're getting pulled in whether we want to be or not."

    See the full story: http://www.firehouse.com/news/10984496

    My question is: what level of EMS response, if any, does your FD provide to the community and for how long?

    Have EMS responses (long ER waits, increased volume of runs, etc.) had any negative impact on your FD, such as loss of members, low morale or anything similar?


  2. #2
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    Apr 2004
    Bossier Parrish, Louisiana


    Combination Department - ALS First Response

    5 of our 8 career members are Paramedic with 1 currently in the training process.

    70% of our volunteers have an EMS certification ranging from Paramedic to First Responder.

    Volunteer Department - No EMS response
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

  3. #3
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    DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Aug 2000
    Somewhere between genius and insanity!


    My FD has been doing EMS since the mid 1950's, when the E&J Resuscitators were placed on the engines.

    We do first reponse EMS, a private ambulance company provides transport, the ambulance is staffed with two paramedics. They have 2 ambulances dedicated to the city, as well as a floater unit based in a neighboring community (they also have the same EMS transport company) We have a great relationship with them, they provide our EMS training as well as $40K a year into a public safety training account. If they request a firefighter to drive the ambulance out of town to a medical facility out of the City, they reimburse us for calling someone in to cover. They in turn have mutual aid agreement with another private EMS company based in the City for mutual aid if required. The last time both EMS transport companies worked together was for a school bus accident, 12+ middle schoolers were transported. I was in one of the ambulances, as I was working per diem for them.
    Last edited by DeputyChiefGonzo; 07-11-2013 at 07:16 AM.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  4. #4
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    Bones42's Avatar
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    Mar 2001
    Pt. Beach, NJ


    Vol department....no EMS response. EMS handled by a separate volunteer EMS agency. They also do some of their own extrication.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  5. #5
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    ToDaRoof's Avatar
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    Apr 2013
    The Old Dominion


    Career department, run ALS and send personnel on the ambulance frequently. There have been quite a few occasions where someone has been sent in and a working fire gets dispatched.
    "I am an aggressive firefighter, and that is not an apology."


  6. #6
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    Feb 2005
    Marble Rock, Iowa


    Our department has been doing First Response EMS since 1987. We are a non transport EMT-B level service, BLS transport comes from a volunteer Ambulance service in a town 6 miles from us and ALS transport comes from a private service in a town 18 miles away. We are a volunteer department and 75% of our members have EMS certs ranging from First Responder to Paramedic Specialist. An interesting thing for us is that we do less EMS runs per year than Fire runs, people in this area simply do not like to call for an Ambulance they would rather transport themselves when they need medical attention.

  7. #7
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    Aug 2010


    Combination Dept, we provide full ALS service. 2 ALS ambulances, 2 ALS engines. 5 career guys on a shift, minimum of 2 paramedics, rest are EMT. Volunteer staff is split about 50/50 between EMT and non EMS trained.

    If we have both ambulances out, that could leave our station with only 1 person unless others come back on recall time. Not a great situation to be in from a fire call standpoint. At that point we would rely on Mutual Aid. Luckily we aren't very rural so mutual aid isn't very far away.

  8. #8
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    FyredUp's Avatar
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    Jul 1999
    Rural Wisconsin, Retired from the burbs of Milwaukee


    Career FD I retired from ran 3 ALS Paramedic ambulances, when extra PM/FFs were on duty we ran PFR fire rigs. Otherwise all non-PM/FF were EMT Basics. The Fd has had paramedics since the 70's, deleivery has changed from 1 ALS ambulance and 3 BLS ambulances to 3 ALS ambulances.

    #1 POC FD, no ems response other than lift assist to support a third service local POC EMS service.

    #2 POC FD, seperate internal EMS division. Some FFs are also members of the ems service, most members of the ems service are not FFs.

    EMS in and of itself does not destroy the fire service, the horrible way it is staffed and ran by penny pinching admins in the career fire side is causing issues. On the volly side it is almost always about personality conflicts. If those issues are handled quickly the problems are lessened.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe it's not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

  9. #9
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    HuntPA's Avatar
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    May 2010
    Northwest PA


    Volunteer Department
    BLS QRS service since we were formed.
    BLS transport is mainly through neighboring volunteer departments (we end up staffing these 80% of the time)
    ALS is provided through private service, unless they are all out, then we get ALS from private NY service.

  10. #10
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    Nov 2002


    My full time dept. started an squad for emergency first aid back in 1934. I'm not sure when they first had an ambulance, but we had the first mobile cardiac care vehicle in the country ( http://www.heartmobile.org/ ), and the third to have paramedics. EMS is about 75-80% of our runs. ALL of our personnel are trained to at least EMT-B status. We man engines and Heavy Rescues with a minimum of 1 Paramedic, and our Transports (medics) have 2 paramedics. An engine and medic go on all ALS runs, with just a medic on BLS runs unless a medic is not close. Years ago Rural/Metro tried to make a bid to contract with the city for EMS, but they could not provide the same level of service that we could.

    My POC dept. doesn't do EMS anymore, they did used to run a BLS Ambulance, but the gave it up in exchange for the County EMS placing a full time ALS vehicle in the township. We assist on ALS runs and do first responder for them if they are tied up. EMS is about 25% of our runs, not counting accidents.

  11. #11
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    Jan 2013


    Since 2004, our communities are covered by a private regional ambulance service, which covers 6 member towns. It is staffed ALS Level (0600 hrs.-Midnight) with a paramedic and an EMT-B, and at BLS Level from (Midnight-0600 hrs.). The service has (2) ambulances, one which is always staffed, and the other that is staffed if needed by the EMTs who live within the service area.

    Of the (6) member towns, the volunteer and POC FDs have members who are either EMTs or at minimum 1st responders. Since for the majority of towns there is roughly a 10-15 minute response time for the ambulance, the FD's are dispatched to start Pt. care prior to the ambulances arrival.

    If anything the EMS side of the FDs has kept members interested in serving on the FD, since EMS consists of nearly 70% of our calls, it gives us something to do besides wait for that one fire call that happens every two weeks.

  12. #12
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    tree68's Avatar
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    Aug 2003
    Jefferson County, NY USA


    BLS first response since the '80s. Number of EMTs varies.

    Ambulance service was provided by the other fire department in the township until about ten years ago, when an independent NFP squad was organized. They are staffed 24/7 with a paramedic and a driver.

    For a number of years, I ran ALS with the FD ambulance, so would first respond BLS for calls in our district, then would magically become an ALS provider when I stepped into the ambulance.

    The FD that ran the ambulance does not do first responder since the inception of the NFP squad, but is occasionally called to assist with lifting, etc. Vehicle extrication is an FD thing - the ambulance folks are not equipped for it.

    I should add that some of our members absolutely hate EMS. The only way you're going to see them at an EMS call is if they are the patient.
    Last edited by tree68; 07-11-2013 at 03:09 PM. Reason: Additional comments.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

  13. #13
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    FiremanLyman's Avatar
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    Dec 2009


    Career city department. Our EMS is handled by county that serves 4 mid to large cities and all the other little towns and unincorperated areas.

    We run at a EMT-B minimum since the early '80s, and respond to all medicals within our city and ETJ as first responders, usually are there ahead of the ambulance crews having initial assesment, history and BLS started when they arrive. Our department is the only one in the county running a FRAP - First Responder Advanced Protocals, which allows our EMT-I's and -Ps to start IV's, EZ I/Os, intubate and push advanced drugs. We have our FRAP firefighters spread through the city, goal would be someday to have each disrtict staffed with a FRAP.

    The increase in medical assist calls is not a suprise, and has not really effected moral. It is what we are trained for and we are commended for providing another benifit to our customers. The 3am toe pain calls are getting old, but that should be solved down the road with medical priority dispatching. We've figured that we got to run about 50 EMS calls as offering to the fire gods so they will grant us a fire. Such is life.
    Firefighter/EMT/Technical Rescue
    USAR TF Rescue Specialist

  14. #14
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    WVFD705's Avatar
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    Dec 2011
    Woodson, Texas


    Our EMS is it's own county-based entity.

    We used to not run EMS. A few years ago, we were able to get everyone in our department a radio to receive tone-outs. EMS would contact us every now and then to get assistance with directions, since they live in the only other town in the county and are not familiar with our area. We just kind of started getting in the habit of responding to help when we heard the ambulance toned out, then they started working with us to get some basic first aid training and an AED. Now it has progressed to where we respond to every EMS call, provide basic first aid and set up the landing zone if necessary (generally about 50% of our EMS calls).

    Now the county has contracted with Air Evac, and we are able to order Air Evac ourselves. Sometimes, it cuts the time it takes to get patients to the appropriate level trauma center in half. We can often have them to the appropriate ER within an hour or so, and it seems like people are surviving some things that used to seem like they were always fatal.

    People were surprised to see us responding to EMS calls at first. Now, we get all kinds of calls. Sometimes it is a person with a disabled loved one that needs some help loading them in a vehicle and taking them to the doctor or getting them in or out of a bed or house. Often, they will just call the chief or an officer on the cell and see if anyone can come help. During the last half of 2012, people were even calling us instead of the county sheriff, because the county sheriff lost the election and wasn't terribly responsive.

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