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Key fire chief explains vehicle response combo

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  • | 4:00 a.m. April 27, 2011
  • Longboat Key
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Longboat Key Fire Rescue Chief Paul Dezzi and his firefighter/paramedics receive the question almost daily:

“Why does a fire truck always have to respond to a call with an ambulance?”

And the answer is always the same:

“To ensure the highest level of patient care is provided by Longboat Key Fire Rescue, we utilize a priority dispatching system to send the closest unit to service calls,” Dezzi said.

Calls that automatically receive a fire truck and ambulance are respiratory-, cardiac-, chest pain- and fall-related calls.

“History has demonstrated that these call types require more manpower, and we feel it is better to have both units respond than to arrive with one vehicle and need to request the other,” Dezzi said. “That causes nothing but a delay.”

If the second unit is not needed, Dezzi said it returns to the station.

Dezzi notes there are many times when a fire truck is the closest unit to the emergency. 

“If the personnel on that fire truck can handle the call, without having to transport the patient to a hospital, then they will cancel the ambulance and mitigate the call themselves,” Dezzi said.

Dezzi explains that there are paramedics on both the fire trucks and ambulances providing care to a sick or injured patient. 

“The only difference between the medical equipment carried on an ambulance and that carried on a fire truck is the ambulance has a stretcher to transport the patient,” Dezzi said. “So, when residents see a fire truck, they need to realize it is not just a fire truck that responds to fires with hose and water but a vehicle with oxygen, medications, a defibrillator, airway-control devices and, most importantly, personnel who are able to handle both emergency calls and fires.”

Another reason to have a fire truck respond with an ambulance, Dezzi explains, is that four firemen are sometimes needed to carry patients down the stairs, because there isn’t enough room in some island elevators for patients and equipment.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected]


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