Fire Department Rolls Out Quick-Response Vehicle Program Lighten Load of Fire Trucks

Chattanooga, TN—Many people would be surprised to learn how often firefighters respond to medical emergencies. The Chattanooga (TN) Fire Department responded to 17,453 incidents last year, and of those calls, roughly 48 percent of them were for medical emergencies. This week, the fire department will start a new pilot program that is designed to enhance responses to medical emergencies in Chattanooga. With this new initiative, three quick-response vehicles (QRVs) will begin responding to medical calls. They will be used in place of the large fire apparatus, which is what firefighters traditionally use, whether to respond to a fire, car wreck, or medical emergency. Mayor Andy Berke says the QRV program helps move city services toward one of his primary goals, high-performing government. “I am not content with running government the way it’s always been run,” says Berke. “My goal is for our city services to be even more efficient today than they were yesterday.”

The QRVs are specially equipped Ford Explorers staffed with two firefighters who are trained to the EMT or EMT Advanced level. “We believe the QRVs will allow us to provide a quicker and more efficient response to medical emergencies,” says Training Chief Phil Hyman, “and when it comes to medical emergencies, such as heart attacks and strokes, the quicker you provide care, the better the outcome for the patient.”

Hyman says the training for those firefighters assigned to the QRVs has been completed and the program should become operational by the end of this week. The QRVs will be assigned to fire stations in the areas with the highest call volume for medical emergencies, including Station 5 on Willow Street, Station 8 on Hickory Valley Road and Station 19 just off Hixson Pike next to Abba’s House. Hyman says the program will be evaluated carefully, but is optimistic the results will be positive. “If successful, we’re hoping to further enhance our service by adding more QRVs in the future.”

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