Paramedics on fire pumpers help save KC lives - KCTV5

Paramedics on fire pumpers help save KC lives

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Some Kansas City fire trucks will have something extra the next time they rush to a scene, and it could help saves lives.

Last February, the fire department started a pilot program using smaller fire trucks called pumpers to respond to some emergencies first before ambulances. It has made a huge difference in the response times.

Jeremy Skeen has been a paramedic for seven years, and for the last year and a half he worked on an ambulance.

Now his new home is a pumper retrofitted into what is now called an advanced life-saving vehicle.

"We have much more trucks in the city than we do ambulances. Therefore, a fire truck tends to get on the scene a lot faster than an ambulance does," Skeen said.

This new method of response is part of a goal by the fire department to cut response times to under nine minutes without compromising emergency care.

According to new data, it appears the department has reached their initial goal.

"The data showing that pumpers delivered that advance life-support care an average of three minutes and nine seconds sooner than it would have been with the ambulance," Battalion Chief Ross Grundyson said.

Numbers released by the fire department responded to 184 calls over the last 60 days.

Of those calls, 137 required ambulance transport, and in 119 of those responses, pumpers arrived before the ambulances did.

"We rush to treat the patient, and when the ambulance gets on the scene, we deliver the patient to the ambulance who will transport to the hospital," Skeen said.

The department is pleased with the initial success, but they said their work is not done.

"Target numbers we are looking for is eight minutes and 59 seconds on the Code 1 calls and 11 minutes and 59 seconds on the Code 2 calls. So if the pumpers are getting to the scene 3 minutes and 9 seconds earlier, yes, there is a benefit there," Grundyson said.

The pilot program was supposed to expire within 90 days, but the department will keep the program going. By October, they'll have three permanent pumpers working as advanced life-saving vehicles and will likely add a fourth later this fall. 

The cost to upgrade the trucks is about $340,000.  The city council approved those upgrades in March.

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