Home CONFIRE Relationship of Fire First Response to Emergency Medical Services

Relationship of Fire First Response to Emergency Medical Services

by ECT

There are some insane rumors flying around the web since the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors/Fireboard approved putting a $75 parcel tax on the November ballot that I find to be stunning and flat out ignorant. I would like to provide a document that squashes a lot of these misstatements so that voters can make a well-informed decision.

I’d like to first go back to Gill Guererreo statements from Tuesday where he perfectly stated, “To hear ignorant statements that these are threats is horrible. These are ignorant statements that the public runs with. Those that lied about scare tactics, they are partially responsible for this recent death… we’ve never tried to scare, we try and educate.”

He is right, and immediately after the meeting on Tuesday, the rumors and lies from the anti-tax group began.

Like Mr. Guererro, I like to educate people as well which is why I want to provide the document The Relationship of First Response to EMS from the Contra Costa Health Services Emergency Medical Service Agency (EMS). This is full of nice information that disproves a lot of the false information flying around sites such as the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association, Halfway to Concord and many others.

I have nothing against ambulance companies, but what I love about the document which I hope people take from it is it states numerous times that ambulance services cannot duplicate fire first response times or activities. Essentially, this means that the county EMS was set up to be a partnership where firefighters and ambulance companies each have a specific role that ensures public safety. Neither is better than one another, they just have different roles.

For example, this talk about changing the service model to have fire engines withdraw from responding to medical calls is explained. From the document it states:

The Contra Costa EMS Agency does not control the funding, configuration or response capability of fire first‐responder services and does not have the resources to fill gaps that may result from cutbacks to fire services. Although 9‐1‐1 ambulance response times are NOT impacted by these changes, ambulance service cannot duplicate fire first response times or activities.

Later in the document it states:

Fire first‐responders provide emergency treatment on scene until care can be transferred to the ambulance crew, continue to assist in patient care when needed both on the scene and, in some cases, en route to the hospital. Importantly, fire first responders provide scene management, safety oversight, and rescue services (e.g., extricating patients from motor vehicle accidents). When patients require transport by helicopter (most often critical trauma patients), fire responders are required to manage the landing site. Fire personnel have all hazard capabilities not easily duplicated or replaced by other personnel.

The other claim is that these anti-tax folks are using single examples in response times to claim its happening a majority of the time. They claim ambulances arrive on scene either before or at the same time as fire responders. Well, depending on the location of an ambulance, that may be true sometimes, but according to the document, a majority of the time their statement is false.

Fire first responders typically arrive 2‐5 minutes before an ambulance, but, depending on the location of the call and the location of the responding units, that interval can be 10 minutes or more. While a few minutes difference in response times do not affect the outcome for most patients, in certain critical cases – cardiac arrest, breathing difficulty, profuse bleeding – minutes, or even seconds, can make a difference in saving a life or avoiding serious complications.

The 5 page document offers other details which include:

  • The EMS System at Work and the Role of First Responders
  • Potential Patient Care Impacts of Reductions in Fire Service Resources
  • Disaster and Multi-Casualty Events (this is a great read)
  • EMS Agency Role and Changes in Fire First Response
  • Measure H Support for Fire First Responders and Fire Paramedic First Response
  • Other Support for Fire First Response from Measure H

The Relationship of First Response to EMS

Photo was taken via Contra Costa County EMS Facebook Page

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JimSimmons42 Aug 3, 2012 - 1:53 pm

Thank you for this… not that I need convincing, but I am now further sold. This Taxpayer Association group appears to be very dangerous and on the wrong side of things.

Mike Clark Aug 3, 2012 - 1:56 pm

I can also provide a document stating why you are wrong. Nice try Burk

tom Aug 3, 2012 - 3:07 pm

lets see it mike! I am skeptical

burkforoakley Aug 3, 2012 - 3:21 pm

Tom I agree, I encourage him to go for it!

Frank S Aug 3, 2012 - 4:41 pm

Prove this.

Vince Wells Fan Aug 3, 2012 - 3:27 pm

Glad someone used a real document to provide facts instead of tweaking them like COCO TAX and the Times has done for years. Great job Burk. Kris Hunt, I hope you read this because Burk just showed you how you make an arguement using real documents and statements. You and your lies are now exposed.

Jeff B Aug 3, 2012 - 4:00 pm

just because some document comes from within the deep dark caverns of CCC bureaucracy does not make it anything more than another government piece of paper. They can print or say anything they want to try to justify anything they want.

I say lets have less county bureaucracy, more boots in vehicles and more unified management (a single responsibility point) for fire & ems (that includes transport oversight and all other related contractor oversight).

Even a non-expert can see that ideally the best scenario has first responder/rescue/all-paramedic and transport being part of the same management chain and or entity (public or private). The tough part is paying for it. So by the existence of a single responsibility point the ability to create that scenario is further incentivized, streamlined and brought to the forefront.

But who am I kidding…. in CCC bureaucracy, special interest, the failed status quo and paying too much rules the day. The elected officials in CCC are followers and not innovators. They solve problems the old fashion way by hiding from them as long as possible then seeking the public to pay more taxes. Why not try an innovative approach, certainly the down side could not be worse than the present predicament ….but then again they would actually have to come up with a plan and take a bold action and of course that action could upset some special interest i.e. political patrons.


Frank S Aug 3, 2012 - 4:44 pm

Clearly, you are anti-Gov. at all cost based on your many posts. Remember that next time these government employees save your life. May you please provide me information on your innovative solutions?

Jeff B Aug 3, 2012 - 5:56 pm

anti lazy gov….yes indeed!
anti self-serving gov….yes indeed!
anti inept gov….yes indeed!
anti corrupt gov….yes indeed!

and before the rants begin about if don’t like them run for office yourself….never in a million years, so don’t waste the key strokes.


Jeff B Aug 3, 2012 - 6:09 pm

Frank S……if you have read my posts then you know my solutions and even the last post contained a basis for solution.

How about this solution….. form a NEW fire/ems entity that covers the former con fire and eccfpd areas and pay the new employees at the eccfpd rate with a revised pension program under the same terms the county is prepared to impose upon the employees of the DA’s office. by doing this and making a few operational changes there would be a good chance of being in the (going forward) black on day one.

is this solution innovative…probably not but it is a solution and it is a solution that fits reality.

Frank S Aug 3, 2012 - 6:48 pm


Thank you for the solution, some of that may work, but I think the revised pension is a non-starter because everything I’ve read, even if you do it, it won’t matter for decades. I think Mike’s post the other day pointed out the current problem is the pensions today, not ones years from now that had already been revised to fix the problems we have today with those already retired. I like how you are thinking about a one-department fire/ems to kill a lot of the duplication and cost. I am sure CONFIRE would fight going down to ECCFPD rates.

Sandbar Wino Sep 2, 2012 - 1:27 pm

Frank, Don’t waste your time with Barber, he isn’t here to help, he is here to tear down the hard work of others. He is the kind of guy who thinks his opinion trumps government code. His wife literally introduces herself as the “nice” Barber…

CoCo Tax has been a threat to the safety of non-members for far too long. It’s time that people see them for what they really are… a self serving tax write off who would rather play politics with peoples lives than actually get dirty trying to work on the serious problems ahead of us. They are a special interest group and nothing more.

EastCountyReader Sep 2, 2012 - 3:10 pm

@ BAG (aka; Jeff Barber, “Bald Angry Guy”)

You spewed; “just because some document comes from within the deep dark caverns of CCC bureaucracy does not make it anything more than another government piece of paper. They can print or say anything they want to try to justify anything they want.

So my rhetorical question is, what makes anything or any document YOU produce have any merit? Especially coming from such a ignorant —- as yourself. Oh that’s right you live in your own little world. “Misfit Island” as I am told.

You are a freaking joke Barber. I feel sorry for your new neighbors in Utah. They don’t deserve you-no one does. Those of us in California raised a glass and said; “AMF, and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out”. Just thought you would want to know how important your presence was and what a fool you made out of yourself during your short stay.


Jeff B Sep 5, 2012 - 10:50 am

this reply ring-back thing is a nice feature.

cool…..I’m still living rent free in your heads

I’m flattered to know my words have had such great impact and since they have I will continue to state my opinions.

I’m guided day to day by several pretty simple principals, 3 of them apply directly to this issue:

don’t spend more than you can afford
when something is broke fix it……asap
change driven by necessity can be good especially when well planned

You don’t have to to be an historian to know that fire departments, since their inception, have been evolving. Now is no different. In fact now and in CCC the time is perfect for fire department evolution in form, function and finance. I firmly believe being locked in the status quo is a terrible thing. Forward thinkers have the best chance to overcome adversity. Entrenchment leads to wallowing in adversity. Right now CCC is clearly wallowing.

This FD/ems situation in CCC absolutely belongs to the BOS….they have responsibility for the 3 entities central to the issue and they can drive a resolution or they can continue to hide (wallow) and simply seek to suck more tax money out of peoples already stressed wallets. Because the odds are the more tax door is closed, only NEW ideas and CHANGE will solve the problem.

Although it is the BOS that must drive the solution its the ECCFPD that could be the catalyst that calls for the BOS to form a ‘working group’ aimed at developing a high level solution(s).

But lets cut to the bottom line….the only real solution ever brought forward is the formation of a brand new county FD that incorporates EMS and brings in county EMS funding/resources. This is part of that evolution thing I was talking about. When I was a kid, and even more recently fire trucks did not typically go to every medical call, they just were not set up or funded for that kind of response. If that level of service is going to be provided it must be paid for and if the county has EMS responsibility they must come up with the way to make the numbers work.

Of course one way the numbers will work is for a new FD is to employ the ECCFPD wage scale for all employees and to implement a range of benefit reforms. Anyone who does not recognize this key fact is super stuck in a spacial interest fog. The ECCFPD wage scale is the right scale for this county and I guarantee if it is the wage scale used by a new FD no jobs will go unfilled and all of the employees will continue to meet the state requirements.

JigsUp Sep 5, 2012 - 11:18 am

Are you kidding me? The wage scale for ECCFPD is about right? Because you said so? Do you read the newspaper around here at all? ECCFPD still has almost a 4 mil deficit. Got any loose change you can pitch in for that?

Here’s what you do to expose the flaw in your grand plan. You start leaving engines in stations. It will save 30 or 40 grand per year per station. Then of course EMS will take back the 35 grand they give each station under the current arrangement from Measure H funds.. Easy peasy. No more whining from the nickel pinchers and now you can send the taxpayers over to that more costly option from amr. The point here is the fire district already gets money from EMS for those response services that is inline with the costs associated. Did you not understand that or something?

When I was a kid we didn’t have smoke detectors or wear seat belts in our cars. Society has evolved in a couple of generations and tens of thousands of lives have been saved as a result. But your grand idea is to go backwards? You’re pulling our leg, right? Or are you just auditioning to be the next Darwin Award winner?

Jeff B Sep 5, 2012 - 12:52 pm

because I said so…..no not at all. A profound writer on this website pointed out to me the power of math. So using that powerful tool and factoring in reality yields a very sustainable solution segment that plugs into the corner stone premiss of my mantra that is…. CCC must form a NEW FD and con fire & eccfpd (and maybe others) must completely go away. If the new FD were paid at the eccfd wage plan there would be far less of a budgetary issue, more employees and more open stations. Add to that benefit reform and more of a county contribution toward EMS and we have a multi-part solution that the con fire union will hate but everyone else will see direct benefit from.

tough times call for tough solutions. This is a solution. I have read no others except for sucking up more tax money and pumping it into the status quo. As everyone knows the more tax money thing is not going to happen. So if there will be no new tax and you don’t like my proposal lets see another.

and one more thing…why the heck is the BOS not putting something like a fire/ems P-tax on new developments like Pantagous? If they/you all claim the allocation out of the 1% is not enough and you desperately want more tax money why not use a proven system that puts new money exactly where the new burden/dilution is having an impact? Answer me that please.

JigsUp Sep 5, 2012 - 1:34 pm

You are not reading simple English.

Leaving the engines in station for medicals = savings of 30 or 40k. That’s the only figure on the table here. I don’t know where or why you think EMS is supposed to pony up anymore than that. I can think of a few legal reasons why they can’t/won’t.

Maybe you think your name is Reagan and you’ll do a PATCO style bust of the labor agreement here. But your broke as a joke fire district would be spending massive dollars in court trying it. Ask San Jose or San Diego. Both will be decided in court.

The burden/dilution logic is amazing in it’s self centered i-was-here-first mentality. I could bury that on a call percentage basis or about 8 ways to Sunday on other angles. What the hell is Pantagous?

Measure failure = stations closing. You seem to be struggling with simple cause-effect. The fire district won’t be running a buy one/get one free deal on fire stations.

fireprotectioncustomer Sep 5, 2012 - 2:18 pm

Jiggs made this “point”:
“The point here is the fire district already gets money from EMS for those response services that is inline with the costs associated.”

This is an excellent discussion point because I think some people are of the opinion that the county does reimburse the district for the costs associated with the EMS.

I have been told otherwise. In fact, I have been told that the total payments to the fire district for emergency medical services covers less than 2% of the costs of those services.

Think about the financial ramifications of the largest customer (EMS accounts for well over 70% of the calls the district responds to) payed less than 2% of the cost of the services being provided to that huge customer leaving the other 98% of those county (in this case) costs to be paid by the smaller (fire protection) customers. That’s a financial disaster, isn’t it?

I read Jeff B’s comments, and I don’t infer that he believes the engines should remain in the station, just that that county should take their rightful place in the discussion and pay their fair share.

And some of the personal attack comments posted here bring down the level of conversation and unfortunately make it nearly impossible to have a reasonable exchange of ideas. That is a shame.

B-wood Sep 5, 2012 - 11:58 am

@ Jeff B

Living rent free in our heads? Yeah right.

The only thing we see is your need to keep posting the same dysfunctional comments that obviously keep rolling around in your head. By the frequency and repetitive nature of your posts you are extremely frustrated.


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