In April 2011, Tuscaloosa Fire & Rescue Service responded to two powerful tornadoes in a period of just 12 hours. EMS World recently discussed the lessons learned from that response with Fire Chief Alan Martin. Here we take a closer look at the day-to-day operations of this agency.
The Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Service began humbly enough in 1878 as a one horse-drawn engine. It has since grown to 12 stations and more than 200 firefighters serving nearly 200,000 people countywide. The department strives to protect life, property and the environment through direct involvement in fire prevention, firefighting, emergency medical care, water rescue, technical rescue, hazardous materials mitigation, disaster response, public education and community service.
Name of department: Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Service.
Type of department: Fire-based/paid.
Number of employees: 249 (12 staff, 5 non-uniformed, 232 line personnel).
Service area: 1,340 square miles, with a population of 194,656 countywide.
Call volume: 10,314 EMS runs (October 24, 2010-October 23, 2011).
Number of vehicles: 14 BLS vehicles (non-transport), 2 ALS vehicles (non-transport), 3 ALS vehicles (transport capable).
Annual operating budget and major sources of operating revenue: Annual budget is $18,896,492. Revenue is from city’s general fund, which is predominately made up of sales and property tax receipts.
What makes your service different or unique: We have a dual response system with the private ambulance company. They supply us with equipment and supplies used on patients that they transport, and they also pay a franchise fee to cover the costs of our personnel and equipment used in the line of EMS service.
Recent changes or improvements undertaken to offer better care/service: We have contracted with a sole provider ambulance service and, at the same time, taken on a single medical director to cover the entire city of Tuscaloosa. This allows us to be more consistent with treatment and protocols in the city of Tuscaloosa.
Recent technology or equipment upgrades: We have added the Autopulse to follow the AHA guidelines for better chest compressions without stopping. We have also added the ResQPOD and will soon add the Chill Core hypothermic therapy to our treatment protocols.
Any new protocols: We are looking at using a BIAD (King Airway) on all patients that need advanced airways. This is one of the projects our new medical director is looking at. He would like to see how long it takes to intubate a patient versus placing a BIAD in the patient.
How do you reduce costs or maximize limited funding: We require the transporting agency to resupply us with any equipment or supplies used on patients in which they transport.