This is the #1 question that members of the department are asked by members of our community.
The City of Madison Fire Department has been sending a fire truck with an ambulance since the 1960s, when we took over the ambulance service from the police and sheriff departments. The primary reason a fire truck comes when you call 911 for an ambulance is to make sure you receive care as quickly as possible. The MFD has a goal of getting to every call for help in less than 5 minutes. We meet this goal about 78% of the time city-wide. Because fire truck crews are more prevalent than ambulances, (we have 15 fire truck crews, but only 8 ambulances) they can sometimes get to a scene sooner than an ambulance and can initiate patient care before paramedics arrive. All members of the suppression division are trained EMTs (have a minimum level of Emergency Medical Technician-Basic licensure). Firefighters can provide life-saving intervention (such as chest compressions), remove the victim from a hazardous environment, dress wounds, and other basic life support until the paramedics arrive to perform advanced care and transport. A fast response for your medical emergency is critical to start the basic life stabilization and assessment.
The second reason we send a fire truck is for assistance with making entry to the building, lifting patients, and medical assistance. When a patient is in critical condition, there is no such thing as "too much help" to ensure a life is saved.