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Victoria fire department reallocates EMS personnel

By Victoria Advocate
Aug. 20, 2011 at 3:20 a.m.


3 levels of response

  1. Emergency service personnel are assigned to respond in either an ambulance or a fire truck for a particular shift.

  2. Emergency service personnel may be shuffled from either a fire truck or an ambulance to operate a reserve fire truck or ambulance to respond to heightened need for a particular type of service.

  3. A call-back of off-duty personnel may still be necessary if all emergency personnel are responding and more man-power is needed.

The Victoria Fire Department made procedural changes for a more efficient response to emergencies last month, and so far the new system is better, the new fire chief said.

The procedural changes allow battalion chiefs to shift personnel to meet crisis situations before calling in reinforcements.

"Usually, when you're getting really busy, it's because you have a significant vehicle accident," Fire Chief Taner Drake said.

If the fire department deploys three of the four full-time ambulances to transport patients to the hospital, only one is left for the rest of the community, Drake said.

Before the changes, the fire department would respond to a high volume of ambulance or fire calls by calling in off-duty personnel to man the vehicle that is in high demand.

The call-back system created a delay between the call for service and the availability of personnel to man the vehicles.

The new system, which took effect about 48 days ago, uses the cross-training of emergency service personnel. Rather than calling in new people, responders can be shifted to the area they are needed from the vehicle they are assigned to for that shift.

For instance, someone assigned to work on a fire truck for a particular shift may be asked to work an ambulance instead. If another fire truck is needed, someone assigned to work an ambulance shift may be asked to work on the fire truck.

"Now, we can rotate personnel based on what is going on in the community," Drake said. "We are trying to create a system so that the battalion chiefs have the ability to make adjustments based on the call for service."

The new system allows Victoria fire battalion chiefs to reallocate personnel as needed to match the fluctuating need so the proper vehicle can respond as quickly as possible.

"It's worked really well. We haven't had to do any more call backs," Drake said. "It doesn't mean we are not going to have to do that from time to time, but the goal is to manage with the personnel and equipment we have available on any given shift."

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