Arcata Fire District: How AFD responds to medical emergencies

The Arcata Fire District responds to many types of calls on a daily basis. The majority are medical in nature, but we also respond to fires, traffic accidents, and hazardous calls, including power line issues. We respond from three stations within the District, the Arcata Station (631 Ninth St.), the Mad River Station (3235 Janes Rd.), and the McKinleyville Station (2149 Central Ave.). 

For as long as the district has existed, a fire engine has been the primary response vehicle. Our fire engines are equipped with everything needed for every type of call. The fire engines have hose and water for fighting fires, equipment for traffic accidents to help remove victims from damaged cars, basic first aid equipment, as well as ladders, hand tools and toxic gas monitoring equipment.

Over the years, some in our community have questioned the need for firefighters to respond in fire engines to medical calls, which does constitute about 70 percent of our responses. 

Often, fire district personnel will arrive prior to an ambulance and begin medical care. On these types of calls, many of the tools the fire engine carry are not needed; however, our goal is to always be prepared for the next call.

Listening to the concerns of the public and reviewing our call volume data we estimated the impact on equipment, and in April of 2016 the district implemented a new response protocol. Crews are now responding in utility pickup trucks to medical calls in place of a fire engine, if the call is a minimal distance from their station. 

These changes are made in hopes of reduce the wear and tear on the fire engines, and decrease the cost of operations, while still allowing the crews to respond and assist the public as rapidly as possible. 

So far, the fire engines have seen about a 33 percent decrease in yearly accumulated miles, with a corresponding decrease in fuel usage and needed maintenance. 

However, as call volume grows over time and the demand for a fire engine response increases the district may need to reassess the use of utility pickups for medical responses. 

The Arcata Fire District constantly evaluates and reevaluates the service that is provided to our communities and welcome any feedback from our community. 

All District responses in August. 

• Arcata: 136

• McKinleyville: 109

• Manila: 5

• HSU: 7  

• Bayside: 9

• Out of District: 18






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