Hoping to save lives by providing faster service, the D.C. Fire Department announced yesterday that it will send fire engines or rescue squads along with ambulances in response to reports of such medical emergencies as heart attacks and severe stabbings.
Ramon Granados, battalion chif in charge of emergency ambulance services, said fire trucks -- equipped with resuscitators and first aid equipment -- can get almost anywhere in the city from 32 fire stations in about two minutes. The average ambulance response is 10 minutes, Granados said.
Fire Chief Jefferson W. Lewis said 900 of the city's 1,200 firefighters are qualified emergency medical technicians and can provide first aid treatment until an ambulance arrives. He noted that "response time is the single most important factor in saving lives in certain types of emergency conditions."
Another department spokesman said the new policy expands a practice tried experimentally for more than six months, and is not related to any recent emergency event such as the reported delay in sending an ambulance in New York City to the house where former vice president Nelson A. Rockefeller was stricken by a fatal heart attack.
Among emergencies covered by the policy are reported heart attacks, chest pains, difficulty in breathing, electrocution, gunshot and severe cutting or stabbing wounds, multiple fractures, drownings and severe allergic reactions.
The department also will send fire engines or rescue squads to certain types of medical emrgencies on publicly owned grounds, the announcement said.