During a "Red Alert" with Emergency Medical Services (EMS) not able to respond to four simultaneous medical calls in Airdrie on Jan. 20, the Airdrie Fire Department (AFD) was called out to provide first response care.
According to a City of Airdrie press release, AFD crews responded to one call at 12:49 p.m., transporting two patients from two separate scenes to the Airdrie Urgent Care Center for treatment. Additional calls were attended to by EMS as ambulances became available to respond in Airdrie.
"When our crews were on scene at two of the four calls, they were able to provide patient care and confirm that no ambulances were available at that point and then they made the decision to take both of them to the urgent care centre for treatment," said Mike Pirie, AFD's acting deputy chief.
He noted that scene times continue to get longer while providing responses, which also impacts AFD's ability to deal with other calls like potential fires.
"We respond to roughly 1,000 medical calls per year, but I haven't heard of doing a transport like this since 2010 when we transitioned out of EMS. I can't recall a time where we've done this, it's very extraordinary for sure," said Pirie.
The four calls included a fallen resident with a fractured leg, two patients at a single residence who fell sustaining injuries to their heads, chest pain, and a fall with neck and back pain.
According to the City's press release, transporting patients in fire apparatus is an extremely rare occurrence and these two cases occurred as there was no ambulances available to respond.
"All AFD firefighters are paramedics who carefully weighed the benefits of transport over the risk of leaving them on scene. The AFD fully supports the decision by our firefighters given these unique circumstances," the release stated.