Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department completes upgrades on lifesaving equipment

by: Lorena Inclan, Action News Jax Updated:

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Every second counts when you’re faced with having to call 911, especially if it’s a medical emergency.

Now, local paramedics have a better chance at helping save your life, thanks to upgrades on crucial lifesaving equipment.

Jacksonville’s firetrucks can now do much more than put out flames.

“We've put a slew of medications dealing with anything from cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest, drug overdoses, diabetes,” said Chief Kurt Wilson of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.

For the past two years, JFRD has been working to equip each fire engine and ladder truck with advanced lifesaving equipment, including tools such as cardiac monitors, bags filled with medical supplies and medicine.

This year, 15 more trucks were upgraded, bringing the total to 29.

“Whereas before you might have been waiting on the rescue to come in -- as we all know rescues are busy -- now all the engines, all the ladders can start right away,” said Wilson.

Many times, fire engines arrive at scenes before rescue units do. In situations in which every second counts, the new equipment is already proving to be crucial.

“Engine 26 on the Westside, on their very first day becoming ALS (Advanced Life Support), I think the crews made the comment of, ‘wonder if we're going to have a busy day’ and that day they went to three patients with respiratory arrest,” said Wilson.

Wilson said all three patients were revived, thanks to the new equipment.

With the new upgrades, Jacksonville becomes the largest city in the nation to have fully upgraded medical equipment in all its fire engines and ladder trucks.

“Our call volumes are going through the roof. Last year, we had a huge increase and all this does is help us meet that demand a little better,” said Wilson.

JFRD said nearly $380,000 of both city and grant money went into the upgrades.