Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Why do fire trucks show up when there's no fire?

The other day I was driving down 500 South when I saw a large fire truck and an ambulance at the corner of 300 West. I wondered if the Alberto's was on fire, but as I approached the red light, I saw that they were attending to a guy lying on the ground. I don't know if he was the victim of Car v. Pedestrian, heart attack, .28 BAC, or what.

I wondered why a full-blown fire truck had been summoned, and later mentioned it to an acquaintance, who said that one time years ago, she had passed out at a bus stop in the downtown area due to a temporary medical condition. A huge fire truck along with multiple ambulances had arrived on the scene then, too. "I think they just have to show X number of runs to justify their budget," she speculated.

This morning's D-News mentioned that South Salt Lake is considering buying its own ambulances, rather than contracting with Gold Cross. The fire truck question arose again when I read: "Councilman John Weaver has said that having both paramedics and firefighters responding to emergency scenes will mean that all personnel are trained in both jobs."

Does he mean all emergency scenes? Do they not have adequate equipment in other vehicles for a guy lying on the ground? If it's a good use of taxpayer money, that's fine; inquiring minds just want to know.


Anonymous said...

I believe it has to do with the fact that the paramedics are with the fire department. The ambulances have technicians, but not paramedics.

Voice of Utah said...

I wondered about that, but why couldn't paramedics show up in something other than a full-sized fire truck? Do they not have any other vehicles?

Tom said...

To the above comment, it's worth explaining that there are different levels of responders (EMTs are less well-trained than paramedics, as I understand). This was an important distinction when my son had to be transported from the hospital in Provo up to Primary Children's Medical Center. Most of the ambulances weren't certified for on-board oxygen use (or some such thing), so until one became available at the last minute, there was talk of using Life Flight instead. A bit funny, considering we later monitored his oxygen use at home.

I once heard--and don't know if it's true--that having a fire truck show up was cheaper than having ambulances. As to the question of a separate vehicle--wouldn't that then separate the firemen from their truck if it were needed in another emergency?

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