Why Do We Send a Fire Truck With Each Ambulance Call? Again

fire truck

In my office we love to follow and analyze blog stats. Each posts is analyzed to see how many people found it of interest. Several years ago I did a post titled “Why Do We Send a Fire Truck With Each Ambulance Call?” It had a decent amount of views but what we find surprising is that time and time again it shows up as a post that is read by people almost every week. From this I can only surmise that it’s a question that many people have and would like answered. With that in mind I repost it here again with a shout out to our great team that makes up Provo Fire and Rescue.

I’m often asked why we send a fire truck on every medical call.  Does it really require an ambulance and a fire truck for many of the minor injuries? It seems a waste to drive a very fuel-inefficient fire engine to something where the additional personnel are not needed.

While there are some calls for emergency medical assistance that can easily be handled with just the two personnel on the ambulance, there are many that require additional help.  Nearly every EMS system sends a unit to “back” the ambulance for a number of reasons.  First, nearly every life threatening emergency incident is best handled with at least two paramedics in addition to the driver.  Second, there is not always enough reliable information on the patient condition to determine if additional help is needed.

Valuable time may be lost if additional personnel are not dispatched until the ambulance arrives and makes an assessment. Finally, even so called “routine” medical calls often require the patient to be lifted into the back of the ambulance.  Even if the patient is not obese, it is safer for the patient and for the backs of the medics to have additional help to lift. When the fire truck is not needed on an incident, it is released to go back into service as soon as possible. The cost of the fuel to have the extra help immediately available when it is needed is a small cost when compared to the loss of precious minutes when a life is on the line



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  1. Anonymous

    I have also noticed lately that many of our ambulances have been in the Salt Lake City area and on the freeway outside of our city. Why are we sending ambulances outside of the city when they need to be responding here?

    1. bad emt.

      ther are times when a patient need service that the local trauma level or the speciality doctor is unable to provide in the area they resopnde from so you have tomdrive to another hospital. Do you have a veterans hospital or a childrens , pedritiactrict. care unit, may regeliogion plays a part. womens only clinic. ..just wave an know ther making rhe run for $10 bucks plus milage.

  2. Ken

    It has never made any sense. If additional people are needed, either send another ambulance or put more people in the first ambulance. Why waste the use of the fire truck and many of its occupants on a non-injury medical issue?

    1. Jordan

      Here’s the thing Ken. Each station (except for 21) has 4 personnel, 2 on the ambulance and 2 on the truck. All of these personnel are both paramedics and firefighters. Sending both the truck and the ambulance gives the crew more flexibility to meet the needs of the particular call. Working in public service you quickly realize that what is told to dispatch is often not what is actually going on. Having the truck there not only supplies the 2 other crew members, but all of the tools and supplies of the fire truck. Plus, if the call only needs the 2 from the ambulance, then the truck can be back in service to back another crew, like rescue 21 (that only has the 2 person ambulance crew). Whereas if they all went on the ambulance and weren’t needed, and then rescue 21 gets a serious call, all 4 crew members are now on the ambulance transporting a patient without a life threatening condition and there are now less people to help at the other call. Hope that helps.

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