City extends Alternative Response Unit pilot

ARUs primarily dispatched to non-life threatening medical calls

Brian Coddington, Communications Director, 509.625.6740

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at 3:35 p.m.

An innovative pilot program to provide greater flexibility to the Spokane Fire Department’s response system, has been extended for 18 months as part of an ongoing effort to evolve the model to meet the changing incident demands from citizens.

The Fire Department dispatched smaller vehicles, known as Alternative Response Units (ARUs), to non-life threatening medical calls during a six-month pilot that began last fall. Based on the positive results of the pilot, it has been extended beginning today.

“The Spokane Fire Department continues to see an increasing demand in non-life threatening medical calls,” Chief Bobby Williams said. “During the initial pilot program, ARUs demonstrated that they give us the flexibility to expand our response system and be better able to send the right unit to meet the specific need. The ARU program helps us to keep larger apparatus that are staffed with more personnel, available for response to more critical incidents.”

ARUs, which will operate out of Fire Stations 1 (Riverside & Browne), 2 (North Foothills & Hamilton) and 4 (Riverside at entrance to Browne’s Addition), are staffed by one member (either an EMT or paramedic). The ARU stations also house the Fire Department’s ladder trucks, which are not staffed with paramedics and typically respond to the non-life threatening incidents to keep other apparatus with paramedic available. Responses by the smaller ARU’s will allow the ladder company to available to respond to more critical incidents.

Approximately 80 percent of Fire Department calls are for medical emergencies, creating a need to identify alternative response capabilities. Non-emergency calls have risen about 13 percent year to date, while life threatening medical calls are up 2 percent. ARUs will be staffed Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the pilot to coincide with peak call volumes.