West Thurston Regional Fire Authority delivers comprehensive Emergency Medical Services including Basic Life Support (BLS) patient treatment and transport. Advanced Life Support (ALS) services are delivered by Thurston County Medic One.
“Firefighters don’t just fight fires”
In fact, our firefighters are the primary first responders and play a critical role in emergency medical and trauma related patient care and are specially trained to care for most medical emergencies and victims of trauma, such as motor vehicle crashes and other life threatening emergencies. More than 70% of West Thurston Regional Fire Authority responses are for medical emergencies such as heart attack, stroke, diabetic emergencies and injuries from trauma.
The next time you see a fire engine responding to an incident, look at the firefighters in the cab. If they’re wearing their heavy fire gear, they’re going to a fire. If they are in shirt sleeves, it’s a safe bet they are headed to a medical emergency.
Emergency Medical Services FAQ
Why does a Fire Engine respond to a medical emergency?
When a heart stops, or a serious injury occurs…seconds count. West Thurston Regional Fire Authority staffs fire stations with specially trained emergency medical technicians and in some cases paramedics. In most cases the closest appropriate fire department unit will respond to the emergency location. However, sometimes the fire department unit(s) at the closest fire station may have already been called to help someone else; in this situation the next closest unit will be dispatched. If the next closest fire station has only a fire engine then that unit will respond to provide care until the closest ambulance or aid unit can arrive.
Additionally, more serious medical emergencies require a full team of responders. Consider cardiac arrest: while two people perform CPR, others establish IVs, set up a heart monitor, administer drugs, and bring a gurney to the patient’s side for transport. In these cases WTRFA will send a (BLS Unit) ambulance and fire engine to the incident to provide necessary care. Thurston County Medic One will also send a Medic Unit (ALS Unit) to these life-threatening emergencies.
Why are there two ambulances dispatched on a 911 call?
West Thurston Regional Fire Authority provides basic life support (BLS) and patient transportation, and Thurston County Medic One provides advanced life support (ALS) and patient transport. If a patient's medical emergency is determined to be life-threatening, the closest BLS unit will be dispatched to deliver patient care until the ALS unit arrives. In this case you may have more than one unit arrive to help.