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 a victim from a crushed vehicle while simultaneously treating their injuries. In fact, up to 7 out of 10 calls require medical care.
When a heart stops, or a serious injury occurs; seconds count. Given TVF&R's network of 26 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; TVF&R practices high performance CPR, which has been shown to increase out of hospital cardiac arrest survival rates. Other responders 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 percent 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.