"We called for an ambulance; why is there a fire engine in my driveway?"
Fire departments have been responding to accidents and medical
emergencies for decades; however many citizens are still puzzled
about the critical role firefighters play in such situations.
A common perception is that a firefighter's primary tool is a
fire hose and an ax. The reality is that TVF&R firefighters are
equally familiar with administering electric shock and drugs to
restart a heart; inserting a breathing tube; or extricating an
accident victim from a crushed vehicle while simultaneously
treating their injuries. In fact, 70% of our of calls are for
When a heart stops, or a serious injury occurs...seconds count.
Given TVF&R's network of 21 strategically located fire stations,
the same response time advantage that exists for fires also exists
for medical emergencies. While our local ambulance partners
Metro West Ambulance and
American Medical Response also respond to these
calls, a fire unit can frequently get to the scene first, providing
critical care and "stopping the clock."
Additionally, more serious medical emergencies require a full team
of responders. Consider cardiac arrest: while two people perform
CPR, others establish IVs, set up a heart monitor, administer drugs,
and bring a gurney to the patient's side for transport.
Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue has always taken its role in Emergency
Medical Services (EMS) as seriously as its commitment to firefighting.
Every uniformed member of our department is a certified Emergency
Medical Technician (EMT) and nearly 60% are certified paramedics.
In 1997, TVF&R took this commitment one step further by placing
additional equipment on each apparatus and assigning a
firefighter/EMT-paramedic to every station, on every shift. This
ensures that each and every crew can deliver advanced life support
on every call -- 24/7.
The next time you see a fire engine responding to an incident, look
at the firefighters in the cab. If they're wearing their heavy fire
gear, they're going to a fire. If they are in shirtsleeves, it's a
safe bet they are headed for a medical emergency.