Report argues merits of fire-based EMS service

Fire departments are best equipped to deliver emergency medical service, according to a new white paper.

Prehospital 911 Emergency Medical Response: The Role of the United States Fire Service in Delivery and Coordination was prepared by top EMS physicians from three different regions of the United States.

The 13-page report describes fire service-based EMS and the time-critical role of the fire service in providing emergency medical care.

It is critical that policy makers understand the importance of having emergency medical services provided through the fire service. Fire service-based EMS is prehospital emergency 911 medical response provided by the nation’s firefighter EMTs and paramedics. Due to the training, expertise, and equipment of fire service-based EMS responders, they are capable of simultaneously securing a scene, mitigating the hazard, and triaging, extricating, treating, decontaminating (if necessary), and transporting the patients who have been injured to an appropriate medical facility. Time efficiency is a key component of the best designed EMS systems. There is no service more capable of rapid multi-faceted response than a fire service-based EMS system.

“The fire service has a proud heritage of providing EMS services in local communities across America,” said Chief Dennis Compton. “What this white paper represents is an awareness that EMS begins the second a
911 call is placed and highly skilled and trained emergency medical personnel from local fire departments are dispatched to the scene to provide the first level of care to victims.”

The paper is intended to help organizations as they continue efforts to educate local, state and federal officials about the role of fire-service based EMS. The paper underscores the importance of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant and SAFER programs in training and equipping fire service-based EMS and the role of the Federal Interagency Committee on Emergency Medical Services (FICEMS) in establishing federal EMS policies.

The Coalition has also produced a video, “Fire Service-Based EMS: The Right Response,” to complement the new white paper. It features a number of highly respected fire service-based EMS advocates who share their views about the important role of fire service-based EMS in local communities. The experts include Dr. Franklin Pratt, Medical Director, Los Angeles County Fire Department; Dr. Eugene Nagle, Miami Fire Department; Chief William “Shorty” Bryson, City of Miami Fire Department; and Chief Dennis Compton, International Fire Service Training Association.

The report was written by Dr. Franklin D. Pratt, Medical Director, Los Angeles County Fire Department; Dr. Steven Katz, Associate Medical Director, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue; and Dr. Paul Pepe, Riggs Family Chair in Emergency Medicine at Southwest Medical Center.

Members of the Fire Service-Based EMS Advocates Steering Committee include the Congressional Fire Services Institute, International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Association of Fire Fighters, National Fire Protection Association and the National Volunteer Fire Council.

A copy of the report is available on the website of each coalition steering committee member organization. Videos can be obtained by submitting a request to the Congressional Fire Services Institute at

Download a pdf of this report here:

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