SIERRA VISTA — Sierra Vista Fire and Medical have recently changed their process for responding to low-acuity calls, or less serious emergency calls, in the City of Sierra Vista.
Now, calls that are identified as less critical in nature by dispatch will be answered with one smaller vehicle staffed by one paramedic.
In the past, the fire department would send out a fire engine and ambulance, then they shifted to either an engine or an ambulance. However, interim Sierra Vista Fire Chief Brian Jones said their new process will open up the availability of more specialized vehicles and emergency workers for high-acuity calls.
“We’ve really revamped our response plans based on nature codes and based on the acuity of what is going to a call — a firetruck or just an ambulance,” he said. “We’re really doing a better job triaging our calls and patients so we are utilizing resources better.”
The low-acuity vehicle is already in use and Jones said they have already seen the benefits of this procedural shift in keeping fire engines and staff available for more serious calls.
“The good part about it is now we are leaving our fire trucks off the road and also leaving more available for the high-priority calls — chest pain, cardiac arrests, motor vehicle accidents, gunshot wounds — that we need more personnel for,” he said. “We are benefiting in multiple ways. We are getting an appropriate response and we are always keeping our bigger vehicles and personnel more available for high-acuity calls.”
Their new procedure sends one paramedic to the scene who can evaluate if a person needs an ambulance.
“Part of the changes we are making are a direct reflection to our response procedures and throughout the years we’ve altered our responses to work more effectively and efficiently and part of that is the apparatus we use,” Jones said.
The department hopes to purchase another smaller vehicle, a type 3 apparatus that meets specifications for both wildfires and structure fires.
“It’s in the budget this year and we’re hoping to get it; we’re looking forward to it,” Jones said. “It’s a smaller vehicle, it’s less expensive and it gets better mileage.”