EMS Q&A: Why does a fire truck come when I call for an ambulance?

Posted on Monday, May 22, 2017 - 1:28pm

Medic 3 and Engine 3 in a residential neighborhoodMay 21-27, 2017 is National EMS Week! To help us celebrate, take a moment to learn about what we do, share this blog with your friends, and submit a question of your own!

All personnel on a Madison Fire Department engine or ladder truck are certified as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). They’re trained and equipped to provide basic medical care until paramedics arrive with an ambulance.

Our goal is to provide you emergency medical care as quickly as possible, and certifying all our members as EMTs is vital in fulfilling this goal.

The Madison Fire Department responded to an average of 58 emergency medical calls per day in 2016—a total of 21,291 calls last year. These EMS calls typically take ambulances beyond their home territory, most often to hospital ERs located downtown, on the west side, east side, or near Sun Prairie. Having a ladder or engine crew respond to your medical call ensures you receive medical as soon as possible.

In fact, it’s not uncommon for Ladder and Engine companies to arrive on scene prior to an ambulance. These companies are expected to arrive at an emergency medical call within six minutes from the time a 911 call is placed. Advanced life support ambulances should be on scene within eight minutes.

Medical care provided by EMTs during initial contact includes an assessment and initial management of the problem. Once paramedics arrive, EMTs assist them with treatment and moving the patient into the ambulance. Sometimes EMTs are used as drivers if both paramedics are needed in the back of an ambulance to focus on patient care.

Having the additional personnel – a total of six responders – is helpful when lifting a patient and transporting them to the ambulance. When the EMTs and paramedics work as a team, it reduces the chances of injury for both the care providers and the patient.

What’s the difference between an EMT and a Paramedic? Check back tomorrow to find out!
Do you have a question about what we do? Email it to us at fire@cityofmadison.com!