Study Shows Value of Firefighter Responses to EMS Calls
A recent study confirms what we have known for years; fire department emergency medical first responders have a significant positive impact on the treatment and transport of victims of acute medical emergencies and traumatic accidents.
The report entitled, Firefighter Safety and Deployment Study Report on EMS Field Experiments was partnered by multiple agencies (including the National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST], the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, The Urban Institute, The IAFC, The IAFF, and the University of North Carolina) and, “presents the results of more than 102 field experiments designed to quantify the effects of various fire department-based EMS deployment configurations for three different scenarios—1) patient access and removal from the incident scene, 2) a victim of systemic trauma due to a long distance fall and 3) a patient with chest pain leading to a cardiac arrest.”
Field experiments for the study were performed by the members of the Montgomery County, MD Fire-Rescue Department and the Fairfax County, VA Fire-Rescue Department. In the United States, local fire departments provide emergency medical services to their communities in a variety of configurations and at varying levels of service. At the very least, most career fire departments provide emergency medical first responder services regardless of whether or not they physically transport patients to the hospital.
One of the most significant findings of the study showed that, 3 or 4 person fire department first responder crews working in conjunction with ambulance crews were able to remove acutely ill and injured patients from the scene of an emergency, “substantially faster (by up to 4.1 minutes) than the ambulance-only crew.” The basis of this statistically significant finding is that multiple responders (fire engine and ambulance) can complete simultaneous labor intensive tasks such as patient assessment, CPR, airway management, treatment, splinting, spinal immobilization, and patient packaging as opposed to an ambulance-only crew who would have to perform these same tasks sequentially. The study also noted that there were significantly less injuries to EMS personnel when multiple fire and EMS responders worked together to perform labor intensive tasks such as lifting patients onto stretchers, carrying patients down stairs and carrying heavy equipment.
The current configuration that is utilized in Robbinsville calls for sending a fire engine with three Firefighter/EMTs as first-responders to assist ambulance crews on life threatening medical emergencies, traumas and traffic accidents. In a serious emergency such as a heart attack, cardiac arrest, stroke or severe trauma, every minute counts. We now have statistically significant scientific evidence that these victims can arrive at the hospital up to 4 minutes sooner with the assistance of fire department first responders. The entire study is available at: