Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department to use smaller truck for first-responder calls

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The bigger the vehicle, the more the sky-rocketing gas prices affect budgets.

Firefighters Robert McQuinn (left) and Jarus Myles stand with Rescue 1.The smaller truck is being used by Station 6 for first-responder calls to save money on fuel.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Firefighters Robert McQuinn (left) and Jarus Myles stand with Rescue 1.The smaller truck is being used by Station 6 for first-responder calls to save money on fuel.

To combat the rising cost of fuel without compromising the service of the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department, Chief Chris James said it is going to begin using smaller vehicles for first-responder calls.

Starting March 1, James has put a smaller truck, called Rescue 1, into service full time out of Station 6 on Richmond Hill Road. The truck, roughly the size of an ambulance, is used to respond to all quick-response calls within Station 6 jurisdiction.

Soon, Rescue 1 will move to Station 13 because it is the station that receives the most first-responder calls. Station 13 includes parts of Bobby Jones Expressway, Gordon Highway and Deans Bridge Road, among others.

The smaller truck not only saves money on gas, but also saves wear and tear on the larger trucks, which will “have a major impact on our budget,” James said.

The truck is staffed by either two emergency medical technicians, or an EMT and a paramedic. Every firefighter who has joined the department since consolidation has been trained as an EMT.

Because it is an extra vehicle, Rescue 1 brings the on-duty total staff to 72, instead of 70. James said the addition of staff members is still cheaper than relying on the bigger trucks.

For the time being, the staff on the truck is rotated. There is usually one person from Station 6 who knows the area, and another pulled from another station, firefighter Robert McQuinn said.

McQuinn said the truck is used often as backup in extrications in and outside the Station 6 zone during large car accidents. It is equipped with the Jaws of Life, a generator and tripod lights.

“This vehicle is very useful for extractions,” McQuinn said. “The sooner we can get people out, the better.”

Inside, the truck is set up like an ambulance with a stretcher and basic life support supplies. The radio is also connected to area hospitals.

Rescue 1 is also used to take injured firefighters to hospitals if it is closer than responding ambulances, James said, and can be called to structure fires if needed.

McQuinn said they will also take residents if the ambulance is far enough out they think it will affect a person’s health.

There is another truck, Rescue 2, which is being used for training. It will also go into a station after this year’s training is complete.

In addition to Rescue 1 and 2, James is planning on using some of the department’s red Ford Expeditions as quick-response vehicles.

Each of these quick-response vehicles will require extra staffing, so James said he has to wait until the more than 30 recruits complete their training and join the ranks this summer.

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Sweet son
Sweet son 03/20/12 - 05:36 pm
Personnel and vehicles will

Personnel and vehicles will not justify putting these vehicles in service. Need to come up with other plans!

IndianaJones 03/20/12 - 08:04 pm
OK, you can sit around an

OK, you can sit around an whine about the size of the vehicle when I get treated by a qualified EMT driving an Expedition. The EMT will have a defibrillation unit, telemetry to a hospital, and life saving medications. You missed the point. Running those big (Navistar based) diesel rigs is expensive. If they qualify the call, they can serve more people more effectively. Go ahead and keep keeping Augusta in the 1800s as long as you can, I prefer to move forward and keep the charm as we go.

Examples of Ambulances

Brutus the Big Red Truck

itsanotherday1 03/20/12 - 11:15 pm
If I am having a heart

If I am having a heart attack, I will take someone on a bicycle if they can get there first with a defib. Rolling a full sized fire truck for emergency first aid doesn't make sense to me.

curly123053 03/21/12 - 07:43 am
I would like to see the RCFD

I would like to see the RCFD take over the ambulance service for the county eventually. On more than one occasion I have seen the present service do things that are not appropiate because they are a private for profit service. A county run service would be more responsive to the public's needs.

Riverman1 03/22/12 - 04:51 am
I've never understood sending

I've never understood sending firetrucks to medical emergenices for many reasons. Optimally, it should be an ambulance. This is a step in the right direction, in my opinion.

fatboyhog 03/22/12 - 06:59 am
I said this about 15 years

I said this about 15 years ago. Maybe I should get into the business of running county government. I'm glad they are putting the jaws of life on these vehicles. I remember when they were on the aerial truck, and I always thought that was a case of monumental craziness!

Goodidea 03/22/12 - 09:46 am
The matter at hand is that

The matter at hand is that someone gets to the patient within minutes. All of the trucks have the equipment to save lives. Most of the firefighters are EMTs. This Rescue Truck will primarily respond only in a certain area. If a firetruck is closer, the firetruck needs to respond. I don't care how much it cost. We don't need to put a value on a life. As for the jaws of life, they are still on the aerial trucks and will continue to be on these trucks. It takes several firefighters to safely extricate a patient from a vehicle.

The news of this Rescue truck is old news. James didn't come up with the use of this truck. This truck has been around for years and all he is doing is following State rules. I bet if it was up to James he would sell both the trucks.

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