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Are there enough EMS trucks for emergency calls in Jacksonville?

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Updated: 11/16/2010 9:12 am
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Action News has learned JFRD is getting more EMS calls then it sometimes has trucks to respond too.

One call to 911 and EMS trucks are headed to help. But Action News has learned Jacksonville Fire and Rescue just doesn't have enough rescue trucks to handle all the calls. Our cameras were rolling outside the Shands emergency room Monday. It looked crowded because EMS trucks were lined up and paramedics were very busy.

We found out why. JFRD has 34 rescue trucks.  At 1:30 Monday, all 34 trucks were on calls. The union tells us there were at least three additional emergencies at the same time, but no EMS trucks could respond. We took that information to local parents and it's not sitting well. "That's insane," said one parent. "I don't like that," said another parent.

Fire officials tell us, it's more common than you think. They respond to 200 calls for help a day, most of which require rescue trucks. When each call takes around 90 minutes, fire crews admit it can be tough. Parents just want to know help will be there when they need it. "Absolutely, if I find out someone called specifically because they couldn't find their cat or other stupid reasons," said Kelley Urban.

Even if an EMS truck can't get to you right away, a fire truck will still respond to a 911 call. Some of them are equipped with emergency materials, but they can't transport patients to the hospital. A recent study by TriData suggested JFRD needs to add six additional full time rescue trucks to its fleet. The problem is, each truck costs upwards of a half million dollars. They say with tough economic times, it's tough to raise taxes even more to pay for trucks.
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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Action News Jacksonville

MsMadScientist - 11/18/2010 2:11 PM
1 Vote
Mrtoad, I appreciate SOMEONE enlightening some people that are ignorant of the everyday operations of the local fire department (before anyone is offended by the word "ignorant", please look up the actual definition. This is not meant to be offensive in any way)To elaborate further-The dispatch center can only go on what a person is stating to them on the phone, as well as the field personnel relying on dispatchers to get as much ACCURATE information as possible. Unfortunately, all too often,a person states one problem & the unit gets there only to find something completely different. There is a good & bad side to the way the department manages calls. On a good note, since all calls are a priority 1 when it comes to EMS, people in need will get the fastest response available. On the other hand, because the fire department doesn't "prioritize" the calls as the police dept & many of the country's fire departments, a person with a chest cold gets the same response as someone with chest pain or a gunshot wound. Either way, they work with the knowledge that is given to them. Mr. Joe Public,in more cases than not,wants the unit there ASAP & doesn't feel that telling the dispatcher what happened or what is wrong is necessary. This can delay response when they have the obligation to call for police assistance in order to guarantee the safety of responding units. On a different note, dispatch almost always calls for assistance from surrounding counties when a call may be accessed more quickly from another county's unit. It is in the protocols to also call private ambulance companies when certain situations arise. I have no doubt that this was done this day. Lastly, refusing transport is very rarely done. These protocols are two fold. Problem 1- Mr Green could potentially lose his life because Mr Red wants a ride to the hospital since he's out of medication. On the other hand, there could be underlying issues can present minor symptoms. They do what they can. Enough said.

mrtoad - 11/16/2010 5:08 PM
1 Vote
Alot of misinformation in these comments. I'll start at the bottom, blessings2u your comments are spot on, but once someone calls 911 the city has the legal obligation to respond, and the city CAN NOT refuse to transport anyone to the hospital. By law. mpe, the union is not calling for more hires. they have already acknowledged the FD is over 20% overstaffed right now (the city wants that to be able to say they have low overtime). The $500,000 price includes the equipment, drugs, AND 24 HOUR STAFFING per year. Not a purchase price of a truck commentator the fire union has attacked no restaraunt (unless an all out assault on a buffet counts) The call center in Jax has some of the best-trained screeners around, but can the city take on the legal obligation of telling someone they will definetly not die today, so no response is needed-just from a phone call recieving information from who knows who? Guess what, they HAVE to respond. RJI1222 let's try to put your idea into practice. Let's see we already have fully staffed fire apparatus (required by the way) and now we will hire hundreds more to staff "motorbike patrols" 24/7 and send them on the calls the fire trucks now go on. The shortage here is with transport units-not responders. It would cost millions to implement such foolishness. stoneold, I don't disagree with your contempt for the city, but this reporting was spot on. notsayin, the city has already called upon the private companies in the past, they are not usually ready to respond to emergency calls on a moments notice. The city had a bit of trouble getting help from century during the 2009 FL-GA game. leroy, I couldn't agree more with your opinion, but there isn't a doctor in the city that will take the liability of determining the acuity of a patient they HAVE NOT SEEN. Rescues respond every day to people with non-emergent conditions that called the Dr office only to be told the STANDARD answer...CALL 911

leroyjones - 11/16/2010 1:18 PM
1 Vote
Simple solution is for emergency room doctors to determine if the arriving patient has in fact, a "REAL EMERGENCY NEED". If these doctors determine that these people DO NOT have a REAL LIFE THEATENING emergency need, They would be charged double for the emergency response. 911 CALLS ARE FOR LIFE THEATENING EMERGENCIES ONLY!

notsayin - 11/16/2010 10:06 AM
2 Votes
This is the reason the city has a "certificate of need" with 4 private ambulance companies in the city. However, none of those companies were called yesterday to help the city. We stood by in the ER watching the rescues pile up with emergency calls holding and trucks running clear across town for calls. Seems the city doesnt want to ask for help, they only want to ask for money from the taxpayers.

stoneoldbr1 - 11/16/2010 9:02 AM
0 Votes
Sorry reporting. This is only an attempt for the theiving city to raise taxes for buying something else.

RJI1222 - 11/16/2010 5:18 AM
1 Vote
There are other markets (metro areas) [e.g. Miami] that utilize motorcycles/mopeds to respond to minor calls with two bikes. Not only is it more cost efficient to the tax payers but they can many times more respond much quicker..... and motorbikes require less gas.... if it works well in other areas, why has our city not entertained this.... RJI

commentor - 11/16/2010 1:39 AM
2 Votes
This is reporting to the public at it's worst. Even worse than FDRJ members attack against FireHouse Sub resturants. My 1st advice, look at the spending before you ask for more income. We know to many 911 calls are bogus waste of tax payer dollars. No we can't impose fines because the callers would only toss that bill along with the rest. My 2nd advice, the 911 call centers should be better equipt to screen calls before the trucks roll out.

mpe12 - 11/15/2010 11:18 PM
2 Votes
This is not "breaking news". Abuse of the EMS system would be a better report. I bet the EMS/FIRE union LOVES this story. In time of economic hardship, justification for hiring more people is outstanding PR. And the price quoted ($500,000) for a new ambulance is for a TOP of the line, bells and whistles. Many FIRE trucks don't cost that much! No real journalism, just scare tactics to attract more viewers.

blessings2u - 11/15/2010 10:55 PM
4 Votes
If people wouldn't abuse the EMS/Emergency Room Systems there would be no problems. People utilize the ER for Dr. office visits or majority don't have insurance so they utilize the ER for their primary care. Its sad because one day someone with chest pain having a heart attack because some one called 911 because they stubbed their toe or have nausea and vomiting and loose stools, sore throats. EMERGENCY ROOM is for Emergencies
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