The Redwood City Fire Department is now using a rescue squad vehicle for medical calls to ease the wear and tear on the ladder truck and free up the more specialized equipment for other types of emergencies.
The pilot program launched Squad 409 last week and uses a fire captain and firefighter/paramedic already on staff. The squad will be dispatched for medical calls in District Nine — downtown Redwood City and areas east of El Camino Real — and, as needed, support other responses at traffic accidents and building fires in both Redwood City and San Carlos.
Other cities and departments already use the squad concept which acknowledges that not every fire department call requires a full response. In 2013, for instance, the RWCFD ladder vehicle Truck 9 ran more than 2,700 calls total which limited its availability for other incidents like large fires and caused unnecessary wear.
“We think Squad 409 will provide a valuable service to our community, while giving our specialized equipment the break it needs so it can continue to do its job,” Fire Chief Jim Skinner said in a prepared statement. “Additionally, Squad 409 increases our ability to respond to disasters that may occur.”
The squad vehicle is a four-door Ford Excursion already in the department’s fleet that is equipped with basic supplies and being outfitted to carry more extensive items. Squad 409 is expected on the road in February.
While Squad 409 response to medical calls, the county’s privately contracted ambulance service American Medical Response will transport patients to local hospitals.