Have you ever noticed that when you see an ambulance screaming down the road with lights and sirens blaring that a firetruck is near by doing the same thing?
I get this question a lot and that is why does the fire truck always come with the ambulance? The thing is most fire trucks and ambulances offer the same help but one will transport to the hospital.
Most of time when people call 911 they get confused when they see that big red truck pull up. They often don’t realize that firefighters are paramedics and EMTs as well.
So most of the time the people on the fire truck and the ambulance do the same job just one transports the patient to the hospital.
Now not every city or county sends both a fire truck and an ambulance but its becoming a more common practice. Here’s why the fire truck goes with the ambulance.
Most counties and cities will have a closer unit policy. That means what ever unit is closest takes the 911 call. Since ambulances often have a longer response time because they are tied up with being at the hospital the fire truck may arrive first.
They will establish care for the patient just as the ambulance would. This often makes the transport to the hospital much faster since a lot of interventions can be starting prior to the ambulance arriving.
So the primarily goal is to get care to he patient as fast as possible. That’s why cities may not have ambulance staffed at their fire department but they will often have ALS (advanced Life Support) fire trucks. That way they can give the highest level of care they can in the field.
More people equals more hands to help. While too many helping hands can be overwhelming, on a critical patient who needs a lot of care those hands sure do help.
Also having several people to help is useful when dealing with someone who is multiple floors up or is much larger and can’t walk for themselves. More help means less chance of back injuries for crew members.
Because unfortunately some situations their are no ways to lift someone off the ground with perfect form. Which is one of the reasons why that back related injuries are so high in both the fire and EMS services. pros and cons of being a firefighter
But are the firefighters paramedics too?
Well most of the time there is at least one if not more paramedics one each fire truck and everyone is at least an EMT. Fire department run more medical calls a these days and less fires.
So fire departments have had to adapt to stay relevant and technically in business. This means that not only are firefighters aggressive on the fire ground but the are also aggressive in paramedicine.
This being a job of passion a lot of firefighters really take their skills with pride and are constantly fine tuning them to be better and more stream line. That’s including the medical side as well.
Are firefighters on ambulances?
This super dependent on the department and the cities/counties and contracts and blah blah blah. To keep it simple is its different everywhere you go.
Some departments do what we call transport which means they have have there own set of ambulances that are mostly staffed with firefighter/paramedics.
Then sometimes fire departments contract out to a private agency that only has ambulances. There are a lot of combinations of how this gets done and its way above my pay grade to explain it accurately.
Speaking of pay here is some information about what firefighters actually make.
Possible Landing Zone
This may be confusing to someone who does not work in fire/EMS. In extreme situations where someone is having a massive stroke or severely injured we sometimes have to call helicopter air medical unit to come get the patient and take them to a specific hospital.
This is done when transporting someone in an ambulance is rather critical, would take much longer than a helicopter. In order for these helicopters to land safely without a helipad they need ground units like firefighters to set up and secure a landing zone.
I’ve personally been on several calls where we have arrived with an ambulance, saw how bad the situation was and since we have four firefighters on our truck we send one or two firefighters to help while the others get the landing zone ready.
The crew will find a clearing as close as possible to where the patient is located. I’ve often used football and baseball fields to achieve these ideal conditions.
Specialty units often don’t go.
But not all fire trucks go to medical calls. Their are specialty units that only do what their truck is designed for. Take for an example a super tanker. For the county I live in a super tanker is a massive Semi truck that has a large tank full of water. This is used during fires in area without a lot of fire hydrants which is mostly rural areas.
They have one job and that is to bring water to these fires. That remain always ready for that job only.
Living in Florida we also have a VENOM unit. These guys only respond to people bitten or stung by venomous creatures (rattle snakes, spiders, etc.). They are a specialized unit with specialized training. Those are just a couple of examples but you get the picture.
Interested in what kind of training firefighters do? Take a look!
Help is always coming
As the standards for fire departments keep increasing, requiring more people to be paramedics to even be considered to be hired, the more medical calls fire departments will run.
So that means more firetrucks pulling up with that ambulance. Paramedicine as a whole is becoming more advanced and aggressive thus requiring more help.
That and fires are actually occurring less and less with suppression systems and building codes becoming more involved and strict. So all in all its a good thing to have that extra help coming.