Wilmington firefighters are equipped and trained to handle medical calls

It is a common myth that it is a waste of taxpayer money for firefighters to respond to medical emergencies and should only intervene in the event of a fire.

The reality is this: Every device in the Wilmington Fire Department is equipped with medical supplies, and many times a fire engine or engine is closer and can respond to medical calls faster than an ambulance, according to Rebekah. Thurston, Public Information Officer for the Wilmington Fire Department.

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“We hear it over and over again: ‘I called an ambulance. Why are you showing up on a fire truck? My house is not on fire,’” Thurston said.

According to Thurston, every firefighter employed by the city is not only trained in firefighting, but also in emergency medicine.

“In fact, the majority of our service calls each year are for medical emergencies, like cardiac arrest, overdose and falls,” Thurston said. “Sometimes when 911 sends units, both WFD and New Hanover Regional Medical Center EMS, for an emergency medical call, the fire truck is closer to the scene of the emergency than the ambulance. is why you might have a fire truck that shows up first. “

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The ministry encourages the public not to worry or become confused if this is the case in their emergency. Wilmington’s fire trucks carry medical supplies and firefighters have the skills to deal with medical emergencies until other first responders can arrive on the scene.

For example, the Wilmington fire also responded to the Kidder Street shooting even though there was no fire.

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“It gets a little complicated in cases like this,” Thurston said via email. “Technically, EMS and Fire are supposed to wait for PD to confirm that the scene is safe for us to enter. That way first responders are not in danger and can provide the necessary services.”

Essentially, 911 dispatchers decide during a typical four to six minute call and after asking the caller a series of questions to determine the type of emergency, then direct the call to the appropriate responders in the area. appropriate jurisdiction, and guide the caller through the emergency before a first responder arrives on the scene.

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As for taxpayers’ money, in Wilmington’s recommended fiscal year 2022 budget, the Wilmington fire will see a 12% increase in training and equipment over the previous fiscal year as well as four new positions.

Thurston said whether it’s EMS or fire rescue, it’s all part of the budget training line.

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“So while it may seem odd for a fire engine to respond to your medical call, it actually shortens the response time until help arrives and therefore increases your chances of survival,” Thurston said via email. “We regularly work alongside our partners EMS and Police. It’s a team effort to respond to emergencies and each agency brings something to the table.”

Journalist Krys Merryman can be reached at 910-343-2272 or [email protected]

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