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 tools are a fire hose and ax. The reality is that TVF&R firefighters are equally familiar with administering an 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 calls are for medical emergencies.
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.
Emergency Medical Services
TVF&R 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.