Why Do You Send a Fire Engine to a Medical Call?
This is a resource long fought for by the fire department, and one that not all communities have. In Westford, a fire engine is automatically dispatched along with one of our ambulances to all medical emergencies. For some emergencies, like a person reported to be unresponsive, not breathing, or in cardiac arrest, two engines are automatically dispatched along with an ambulance.
1) Crew safety and manpower. While the 9-1-1 dispatcher tries their best to obtain as much information as they can, we often don't know exactly what we will encounter until we arrive on scene and can assess the situation. If the person needing help is critically ill or injured, it is very possible that every firefighter on the call will be utilized to perform a vital function. At times, the call may be minor and not everyone is needed. However, in order to provide the best care to our patients, we must be prepared for anything. Once on scene, the decision is made to release or keep the fire engine.
2) During a Medical Emergency, Seconds Count! Depending on where the emergency is in Westford, sometimes an engine from one of our substations in Forge Village or Nabnasset can get to the scene quicker and begin care before the ambulance arrives. The response of the closest fire engine in an emergency brings trained EMTs to your home or place of business in minutes. Each fire engine carries an assortment of basic life support (BLS) equipment such as oxygen, cardiac defibrillators, and medications like Epi-Pens and Narcan. This response, together with the firefighter/paramedics assigned to the ambulance, contributes to a quality emergency response.
3) Even on what we might consider a "minor" call, the fire engine crew can assist the ambulance crew with carrying equipment and extricating the sick or injured person to the awaiting ambulance. This allows the ambulance crew to better focus their attention on the patient and their families needs, and helps expedite care on scene and transport to the hospital.