Firefighter's Role in a Medical Response

Firefighters Treating VictimMedical Response

Fire departments have been responding to accidents and medical emergencies for decades; however many citizens are still puzzled about the critical role firefighters play in such situations.

A common perception is that a firefighter's primary tools are a fire hose and axe. The reality is that North Shore Fire/Rescue (NSFR) firefighters are equally familiar with administering an electric shock and drugs to restart a heart, inserting a breathing tube, or extricating an accident victim from a crushed vehicle while simultaneously treating their injuries. In fact, 77% of our calls are for medical emergencies.


When a heart stops, or a serious injury occurs; seconds count. Given North Shore Fire/Rescue's network of five strategically located fire stations, the same response time advantage that exists for fires also exists for medical emergencies. Often, a fire unit can frequently get to the scene first, providing critical care.

Additionally, more serious medical emergencies require a full team of responders. Consider cardiac arrest; while two people perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), others establish Intravenous (IVs), set up a heart monitor, administer drugs, and bring a gurney to the patient's side for transport.

Emergency Medical Services

NSFR has always taken its role in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) as seriously as its commitment to firefighting. Every uniformed member of our department is a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and nearly 35% are certified paramedics. This ensures that each and every crew can deliver advanced life support on every call, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Be Aware

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 shirtsleeves, it's a safe bet they are headed for a medical emergency.