Have you noticed there are fewer fire trucks coming to your neighborhood to fight fires? Sure enough, it's true. It seems that the fire retardants used to build houses, the common use of fire detectors, and more available water, have combined to reduce urban and suburban fires. When we see a a big red fire truck it is usually followed by a fire department ambulance. Eureka! We have more medical emergencies and fewer residential fires. Today's epiphany number one.
If a person calls 911 and reports a medical emergency - the team leaps into action. The firemen put on their heavy coats, their fire resistant galoshes, and their silly fire hats. They jump into the big red pumper truck and - (with the sole purpose to frighten everybody) - they blast the horn and start the siren screaming. Hidden behind the pumper truck is the fire department ambulance with two EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) on board with a full load of bandaids. We used to call these guys "paramedics" but that apparently wasn't good enough. Anyway, the ambulance tucks in right behind the pumper and races to the emergency with all flags flying and sirens blaring.
But 80% of the time there's no fire. It's a medical problem. So the four firemen sit in the truck and read the funny paper while the two EMT people take care of the medical emergency. Now, let's count up. There are two fire department vehicles and at least six fire department personnel now at the site. The 911 operator told the fire people it was a medical problem and there was no fire. Their own fire department knew that over 80% of the emergency 911 calls did not involve a fire.
Now, exactly why did we send one extra truck and 4 extra fire personnel on the call?