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More than half of calls to fire rescue service are medical: Fire chief

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More than half of calls to fire rescue service are medical: Fire chief

That trend has Edmonton Fire Rescue Service’s (EFRS) top brass hoping to pursue more medical training for crews which will in turn help ease the load on emergency medical services (EMS) and ambulance response times.

Last year, 68 per cent of calls attended by fire rescue crews across the city were medical and that number is expected to continue to rise, said Edmonton Fire Chief Ken Block.

“(That number) increased over the last decade from about 60 per cent,” said Block.

“It’s trending upward year over year, with the growth of our city and certainly the demographics, the aging of the boomer generation, that’s only going to continue to increase. I expect next year, or the year after, we’ll be at 70 or over 70 per cent of our events.”

The fire department has had a long history of being part of the medical response system since its origins in 1892, when the volunteer fire brigade was created. In 1908, the first ambulance was donated to the department.

After changing from being publicly and privately operated, emergency medical services is now provided by Alberta Health Services, which works with fire rescue in responding to life-threatening medical events.

Medical calls are broken into different categories — Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta and Echo. Alpha calls are considered minor events that fire crews don’t often attend but would if, for example, ambulance crews need help lifting a patient.

Block said crews most often attend Charlie, Delta and Echo calls, with Delta and Echo considered life-threatening events. About 75 per cent of their medical calls are Delta and Echo.

“We respond with major crews of four people. The officer and two or three firefighters would attend that patient and see what the needs are,” said Block, adding the first steps are ensuring proper breathing and circulation.

“They would gather relevant information on medical history, any medications the individual may be on. They do a lot of pre-work that is very beneficial to the medical crews coming in from Alberta Health Services.”HTB1_AGbEeuSBuNjSsziq6zq8pXax.jpg_.webp


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