Why does the Fire Department provide ambulance service anyway?
Needham residents have had the benefit of a fire department based EMS system for over forty years, nearly half of which time has been at the advanced life support level. An advanced life support (ALS) ambulance service is the highest level of pre-hospital care that is currently available anywhere. The reasons why an EMS ambulance should be provided by the fire department are plentiful and include the following.
• The two fire stations in Town are geographically located so as to insure quick response times to all areas of Town. When a life threatening medical emergency occurs the amount of time it takes to initiate ALS care becomes a critical component to survivability.

• The Needham Firefighters/EMT’s have over 40 years of continued experience providing EMS care within the Town. They offer tremendous knowledge of the Town, it’s buildings, streets, fields and parks. There is no need to depend on GPS systems that transient workers would require. Further, fire personnel develop intimate relationships with sick and infirmed residents over time. These relationships help re-assure those most vulnerable of our Town and reduce the need to re-explain their medical history in depth over and over.

• A fire based EMS system allows for patient treatment to begin immediately, even if the patient is trapped in a building on fire, pinned in a car crash or in a collapsed building. The same people who will conduct extrication can also begin patient treatment during those operations.

• Firefighter/EMT’s are among the most stable workforce in Town. It is common place for fire service personnel to remain at their jobs for well over 30 years. This stability translates into a special commitment to the Town and its people that no private ambulance service could offer. Private ambulance workers are often transient, working shifts in a number of communities without commitment to any town in particular.
• Firefighter/EMT’s assigned to the ambulance are available to respond to all types of emergencies and can offer services beyond the scope of EMS when needed, thus increasing the productivity of our department services.

• A fire based EMS system is seamless and timely. Once the 911 call is made, dispatch needs only to make one announcement to activate a single response that will provide an all hazards response. There is no need to make a separate call to a private ambulance service, thus saving valuable time form the already tight critical time parameters available for effective response.

• A fire based EMS system insures that there is continuity of medical training, equipment, medical direction and administration. Unity of command is always maintained, as there is no competing agency on scene with their own protocols and procedures to contend with.

• Ambulance revenues help to offset personnel and related equipment costs.

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1. When am I allowed to burn brush outdoors?
2. I was having a medical emergency and called 911 for an ambulance, but the fire department came. Why?
3. But I just wanted to be taken to the hospital emergency room where I can get the care I need. What can firefighters do to for my medical emergency?
4. I called for an ambulance, but a fire truck arrived first. Why wasn’t the ambulance sent before a fire truck, that’s what I asked for?
5. When I called 911, the dispatcher asked me a lot of questions. Why can’t they just send an ambulance?
6. Why did you have to send the fire truck and the ambulance? Wouldn’t it be better to just send the ambulance, they’re the ones providing EMS right?
7. Why does the Fire Department provide ambulance service anyway?
8. So why shouldn’t the town hire a private ambulance service?