RWC Fire Dept. Starts New Rescue Squad Program

The pilot program deploys a new rescue squad for medical calls to alleviate strain on specialized fire equipment.

RWC Firefighters  Photo: Joan Dentler
RWC Firefighters Photo: Joan Dentler

[Editor's Note: The following information was received by Patch from the City of Redwood City, and is reprinted here.]   

The Redwood City Fire Department introduced a new squad - "Squad 409" - as a pilot program last week in an effort to fill a much needed gap in fire service support. 

Squad 409 will consist of a Fire Captain and Firefighter/Paramedic, who are already on staff and who will be dispatched for various medical calls in District 9 (downtown and areas east of El Camino), as well as providing needed additional support for traffic accidents and building fires in Redwood City and San Carlos, which contracts with the City of Redwood City for fire services.

The "squad concept" is not new to the fire service or Redwood City. The term "squad" is a shortened version of the term "rescue squad." A "squad" can be tailored to each department's needs. This is important in that Squad 409 will be used primarily for medical aid calls in contrast to other purposes used for "rescue squads." AMR, the private ambulance service under contract with San Mateo County, will continue to handle the transportation component of patients to local hospitals.

Initially, the Squad 409 crew will drive a Ford Excursion that the fire department already has in its inventory; this truck will be equipped with basic equipment and supplies needed for medical assistance. The ultimate Squad 409 vehicle (a four door utility truck) is currently being fully outfitted to make it possible to carry more than basic medical supplies and it is expected to be on the road in February.

This pilot program is aimed at addressing a critical fire service need by providing an alternate way to respond to calls for medical assistance in the downtown area without overtaxing the District's specialized ladder truck called "Truck 9." In 2013 alone, Truck 9 ran over 2,700 calls - a number well above what is optimal. The excessive use of Truck 9 has caused this specialized piece of equipment undo wear and tear, and limits its availability for incidents that require the specialized operations of a truck company to Redwood City and San Carlos.

"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," states Chief Skinner. 

"Additionally, Squad 409 increases our ability to respond to disasters that may occur."  

Squad 409, which uses more affordable equipment to respond to medical calls, will unburden Truck 9 to lengthen its useful life to more appropriately fight large fires.

To learn more, call Redwood City at 650.780.7305.

Claire Felong January 22, 2014 at 03:26 PM
About time. I've yet to understand why we must tax our our city finances & atmosphere by sending a hook and ladder to every non-fire emergency. Had I known that my cut finger would result in wasted gas (& massive CO2) from a hook & ladder, police cars and FINALLY the ambulance, I would have had my friend just drive me to the emergency room. Boys and their toys, the firemen seem to revel in driving the hook & ladder to medical emergencies & Sequoia Station, wearing it down on short trips with the excuse "what if a fire happens while we're at Safeway?" Well, you guys can drive the car and meet the rest of them at the fire, there is always more than one vehicle anyway; this is not rocket science. It's better for the city environment and the city pocketbook. Why is this big news and not just common sense?


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