Why Does a Fire Engine Come With an Ambulance

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The Cosumnes Fire Department provides 24 hour, 7 days a week, 365 days a year service to the cities of Elk Grove and Galt and protects more than 157 square miles of southern Sacramento County. The Fire Department responds to nearly 16,000 calls for service annually out of eight fire stations—six in Elk Grove and two in Galt. The majority of these calls - over 70% - are for Emergency Medical Services (EMS). For most EMS calls, such as a person suffering from chest pain or shortness of breath, two Fire Department apparatus will respond: an ambulance plus a fire engine or fire truck. Two personnel will staff the ambulance, and at least three people will be on the fire engine or fire truck.

 When Cosumnes Fire Department units are not available due to other calls for service, the next closest fire department units will be dispatched. Either a neighboring Cosumnes Fire Department station or one of the other regional fire agencies will respond, regardless of jurisdictional boundaries. This automatic aid practice in Sacramento County has been in place for decades and puts our citizens’ health and safety as our top priority.

Many EMS calls present situations that cannot be adequately addressed by a two-person ambulance crew. The reason we send a fire engine or a fire truck along with the ambulance is if the patient is critically ill or not able to walk and must be carried to our gurney, the additional people staffing the fire engine or truck ensure that patient care needs are met in a timely and safe manner. In addition to the fact that there are more fire engines than ambulances in our jurisdiction, ambulances frequently transport patients to hospitals out of the Department's boundaries, therefore Cosumnes Fire Department engines and trucks are often closer to medical emergencies and can arrive quicker than ambulances returning from a previous call. Also, because medical emergencies sometimes occur in hazardous environments such as on a freeway or at the scene of a crime, a two-unit response provides for greater level safety of patients, fire department personnel, and bystanders.