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The Truth About My Job: Firefighters

Understanding why firefighters are present during EMS calls.



Daniel Miller, captain at Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District.

It’s easy to judge another industry from the outside, with ideas formed by what we see on TV, hear on the news or experience through our friends. But not all stories and stereotypes are true. The best way to debunk myths about an industry? Turning to those who know it best.

FIREFIGHTERS

THE MYTH: The fire department doesn’t need to show up when a person calls for emergency medical services (EMS).

Firefighters are trained to do just what their title says: fight fires. So having them follow an ambulance to a sick or injured caller’s destination might not seem necessary.

“Everyone always asks why the fire engine goes out with the ambulance,” Daniel Miller, captain at Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District, says. “No one usually knows.”

THE TRUTH: “The reason we send a fire engine out with the ambulance is that, on an ambulance, there are typically only two people, and with an EMS call, there could be a lot going on,” Miller says. Paramedics often have multiple bags of equipment and need to be able to navigate difficult areas, like long flights of stairs, quickly. “You need all those extra hands [from firefighters] to help with the equipment or logistics of moving a patient around,”
 Miller says. “You don’t want
to have paramedics worrying
 about their bags or equipment 
when they should be caring about the
 patient, so we have the fire engine come out to help with all that stuff.” 

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