Frequently Asked Questions
Why do we send a fire engine to a medical emergency?
• Fire stations are strategically located in our community. Fire apparatus arrive at most emergencies in less than six minutes from the time the crew is notified. The County of San Diego response time standard for paramedic ambulance is up to 12 minutes. Response time is important in life threatening emergencies, without oxygen, brain death begins at six minutes.
• All of our fire apparatus provide paramedic level care. This service level means that the fire apparatus can perform advanced life support measures in life threatening emergencies. Providing advanced life support measures in the first few minutes can means the difference between life and death.
• Crew size is more efficient, especially in life threatening emergencies or difficult access. A recent study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology concludes that “crew size matters”. Many of the tasks performed are labor intensive and the additional crew provides more efficient patient care. Additionally, access to the patient and movement of the patient to the ambulance can be complicated by distance, stairs and patient size. Without sufficient crew size, patient care would be less effective, patient movement would be difficult and take much longer.
Why don’t we just send a smaller vehicle to help?
• Sending a different type of vehicle to assist would require the purchase of additional apparatus. The need for fire suppression apparatus still exist, regardless of the need to respond to medical emergencies. Purchasing a smaller response vehicle would be a purchase in addition to required fire apparatus. Most public agencies are unable to afford additional equipment purchases.
• Sending a different type of vehicle to assist may require additional staffing. Again, the need for fire suppression staff still exists. Most public agencies are unable to afford additional staffing.