Thread: Cross-Staffing

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    Default Cross-Staffing

    Looking for feedback on cross-staffing ALS ambulances with Fire apparatus in a fire station with 3 personnel. The idea of "first emergency first". Would like to limit feedback to experiance only, not just "perception". Thanks....

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    Default Cross Staffing

    I am a member of a small combination department with one 24 hour officer on duty 24/7, the rest of the staffing is comprised of volunteer personnel. When the fire tones go off, we take an engine or tanker, if the EMS tones go off, we take the ambulance. We then rely on volunteers to respond to the station to grab additional apparatus, staff second out ambulance, and/or call mutual aid if needed.

    On average, we have 3-5 volunteers in station at any given time so we usually do pretty good, but it sucks if we are are on an ambulance call and get hit with a fire......

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    We have been cross staffing for several years now. We have 5 engines, 1 rescue, 2 trucks, and 3 ambulances with 24 men on duty per shift. Our City has a population of 50,000 and runs 9500 call a year. One of the ambulances is full time and the other two are cross-staffed; one with an engine and one with a truck. We agreed to this during a budget crisis, and the alternative was to loose the engine and truck completely. As it stands, when an EMS call comes in, you take the ambulance and the fire apparatus goes off duty. You will miss fires, and it always seems that the ambulance takes priority. Training also becomes difficult, becuase the Chiefs get nervous when you take out the fire apparatus and leave the ambulance (god forbid the money maker is off duty for too long!).

    The problem is, it works for the majority of the time, and from the city's standpoint it is a very efficient way to operate.

    My suggestion to you is, don't agree to it on your own unless the alternative is that bad. Make the city force you into it. If you agree willingly, you'll never get the staffing back. My take on it is, you can wait a few minutes for an ambulance (especially if you have ALS on the engine). However, fire won't wait for you.

    Our engine missed two first due fires last month becuase of the ambulance.

    If you do end up doing it, you must ensure that the fire side of the job doesn't go to the wayside. Ensure you can take the engine out for training. Figure out what to do with your gear - our ambulances have SCBA's on them and sometimes we carry our gear. It would be a hell of a note to roll up on a fire with the ambulance and be unable to help. Same for MVA's.

    Good luck.

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    Do you transport with your ambulance, or does someone else provide that service? If your just running an ambulance because its an "EMS vehicle" and you dont use it to transport patients, put all the EMS equipment and all your staff on the engine and run everything with it.

    If you need to run the ambulance for transport, I guess the only thing you can do is put your crew on whatever rig is needed depending on the call. Thats what we did back in the early '80s, before we had a county ambulance service. About '85 they started the ambulance service so we went to ALS engines and have never looked back.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tfd181
    Training also becomes difficult, becuase the Chiefs get nervous when you take out the fire apparatus and leave the ambulance (god forbid the money maker is off duty for too long!).
    The departments around here that cross-staff will take both rigs, engine and medic/aid car along when they leave station for training, inspections, food runs, etc., to be prepared for either type of call. If they get a call while at the station, they just use whichever vehicle is appropriate. Get an aid call while on the way back from a fire-related call, and they use the engine and call for a private ambulance to transport.

    Seems to work pretty well.

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    A town just south of me has been fighting to be better staffed. They frequently request mutual aid for initial alarm assignments because the crews are out on ambulance calls.
    Now their are a lot of companies around the area, we were second in (because of ambulance calls) on a worker not too long ago, so I don't think they have been caught too bad. The public expects us to do it all and unless we tell them otherwise, that is what they will expect.
    If their is any way possible don't do it. Find two medics and three firefighters.
    Two and two would be better then abandoning a rig.
    Good luck

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    Thats the way it works in Dublin....every firefigther is cross trained during there basic training as EMT-B's, and in every fire station in Dblin there is both a truck and an Ambulance the men do the duties of the ambulance crew in rotation....so about every 5 days or 5 nigths you will man the ambulance with one of your crew...

    Works great, because it means if there's a call to an RTA or Domestic fire and anything like that....when the ambulance arrives its your own crew and they know exactly whats going on and can lend a hand....and its then not a case of you going to a fire call and the EMS team standing arround waiting to be told to do something.....however it does mean that if arriving at a fire call...the ambulance crew jump from there vehicles and help in securing a water supply or helping with running out hose until the time that a patient/civilian is in need of EMS help.....

    Also the fact that your not constantly manning the ambulance also makes it a whole lot better !
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    I don't know if this will be helpful to you, because I work in industry, not municipal service. We have a 4-man shift, 24/7, consisting of an Incident Commander (me), a dispatcher, a patrol person, and what we call a "support technician" (looks after the equipment) . We respond to fires, rescues, EMS, Haz-Mat, and security incidents.

    All personnel are certified EMT-Basic, Haz-Mat Technician, industrial firefighter, as well as several rescue disciplines (High angle, confined space, and water rescue...supposed to also do trench rescue later this year)

    One team member (dispatcher) is always in the dispatch center, so we effectively have a 3-person response in the field. We respond with whatever vehicle is appropriate for the emergency.

    Fires and flammable gas releases, one team member will respond with the engine, the other 2 respond in patrol vehicles (Suburbans). For fires, we also page the entire facility for our Fire Brigade members, who will respond to the location, usually giving us an additional 10 people.

    EMS calls, one member will respond with the ambulance, the other 2 in Suburbans (since we also do security, we may be anywhere on the site when a call comes in, so whoever is closest takes the engine or the ambulance) Minor injuries will be transported to the site Health Services department (infirmary) for evaluation. More serious injuries are transported to an off site hospital, normally with one of our personnel attending the patient and a Fire Brigade member driving. This leaves us with 1 dispatcher and 2 responders while the ambulance is off site on a transport. If something else comes up we can also, again, page out our Fire Brigade members for assistance (I guess you could equate that to a combination department, where you'd page out the volunteers for additional manpower).

    On weekdays, we also have a small administrative staff with the same training/certs as the shift members, and they will also respond with us on most emergencies.

    The facility where I work, although very large, is a pretty safe place as industry goes, so our call volume is very low. Very rarely do we get caught with a second call, so this system works for us. I don't think it would work as well for even a moderately busy municipal department.
    Last edited by dmleblanc; 04-11-2006 at 08:20 PM.
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    I think we invented cross staffing, we've been doing it since 1930. Today we have 2 Engines, a Heavy Rescue, a BLS Ambulance, and a Brush Truck. ( www.gdvfd18.com ) We have 4 or 5 Career people on duty from 0700 to 1500 Weekdays, (plus any Volunteers who are around) with Volunteers covering all other times. We handle whatever kind of call that comes in, with whatever vehicle and crew that is appropriate for the type of call. As I type this post, there are 2 people out on the Ambulance, 1 Engine (Crew of 4) is out picking up dinner, and there are 6 of us left in the station. Next call that comes will get the other 5 people on whatever is needed, with me (Duty Chief) in the Car. We realize that we are better off than some, as far as crew availability goes, But I have a hard time with understanding why people accept running with 2 or 3 people in a station.
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    Hey Harve, is your "new" bus in service yet? How about the new brush truck?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Res343cue
    Hey Harve, is your "new" bus in service yet? How about the new brush truck?
    See www.gdvfd18.com for all the news............
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods
    I think we invented cross staffing, we've been doing it since 1930.
    We've been doing it in Dublin since 1898 when we first started cross staffing
    Dublin Fire Brigade

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    If u cant use it, eat it or drink it............SMASH IT !

    And always remember to duck !!!!!

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