Short answers from Fire Chief Richard Graham.
1.) When I call for Paramedics, why does a fire truck show up.
Answer: In the Lealman Fire District we have 2 rescue trucks that are staffed with 2 firefighter/paramedcis(or EMT). If you call 911 and need emergency medical attention, you will get our rescue truck and if needed an ambulance with 2 personnel. If your closest rescue truck is on another call, the next due unit with paramedics is one of our fire engines. You will still get the ambulance if needed. So when the big red truck shows up(White and Green in Tierra Verde), you are receiving the fastest service possible by sending the fire truck and not waiting for a rescue to come over from the other side of the district.
2.) Why do I get a fire truck when I call 911 for a medical problem?
This question is tied to question 1. All three of our fire trucks are Advanced Life Support(ALS) vehicles and carry medical equipment and at least 1 firefighter/paramedic and 2 firefighter/EMTs(Usually 3 firefighter/paramedics). These trucks are staffed with cross trained personnel who can not only fight fires, but are totally equipped to respond to medical emergencies. Our fire trucks are specifically designed to carry all of the medical equipment an ambulance or rescue vehicle would carry. The only thing they cannot do is transport. However, you will still get an ambulance if necessary.
3.) Why do the fire vehicles start out with lights and sirens and then turn off the warning devices on the way to their call?
When you call 911 you are activating the best emergency system in the world. At the very least one of the best. Once you tell them what the emergency is, the dispatcher pushes a button and units are dispatched to your location. So let us look at this example: You call 911 for a person who fell and has pain. Two vehicles are dispatched with lights and sirens activated. A fire unit (rescue or fire engine) and an ambulance. The call does not stop there and you be asked numberous questions. This next part of the dispatch process is important for you to get the correct help you need. In this example you them tell the dispatcher that your mom fell alst week and was already seen in an emergency room but your mom wants to go back to the hospital. Once the dispatcher determines that there is not an immediate medical emergency based on an intricate screening process, that information is sent to the fire and ambulance personnel. At that point they stop running emergency and turn off their warning lights and sirens. They drive directly to your emergency scene just not with the lights and sirens.
4.) How often do the fire units and ambulances downgrade(turn off their warning lights and siren) their emergency response?
Actually this happens on a regular basis. Many times the fire vehicles and ambulances start out responding emergency and then more information is given to the dispatcher. That information is sent to the trucks to downgrade their response and the warning lights and sirens are turned off.
5.) Should we be prepared for a hurricane? What does that mean?
I hear this a lot from our residents and citizens. Hurricane Irma, Katrina, Charley, and Michael have all taught us that the path and severity of a hurricane is very hard to predict. It seems sometimes that the storms do exactly what is predicted so the path and severity are known. However, other times, like Irma Charley, and Katriina the path or severity varies from the predictions and can change at the last minute. This does not leave enough time for people to go out and purchase water, food, and medical supplies. When everyone goes out at the last minute, the supply chain is stripped and there are not enough supplies to go around. It may take FEMA and the state of Florida 2 to 3 days to start getting water into the areas that are hit by the storm. The worse the storm, the longer it can take to get supplies into areas that are hardest hit by the storms. Experts tell us to be prepared for up to 72 hours. However, I tell people to be prepared for 96 hours. That is your best protection for a severe impact from a major hurricane. Planning is your best defense and self reliance for the first 96 hours will allow emergency relief workers time to get set up and the distribution chain working.