Enhancing Service Delivery to West Pierce Communities
With 9-1-1 calls for service continuing to increase every year, West Pierce Fire & Rescue (WPFR) continues to evolve as an all-hazards response provider. Adaptive approaches in resource deployment to address the demands of increased call volume has been essential to the needs of the community.
It is important to evaluate these needs on a regular basis to ensure the highest quality services are delivered. WPFR has implemented changes to enhance both fire and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) resource delivery to better serve the community. In 2021, two major changes to service delivery were made, including a Squad and an additional medic unit. In 2020, WPFR implemented a two-person resource known as a “Squad” on a trial basis. That unit was implemented permanently in 2021, after much success during its trial period.
The Squad responds in a heavy-duty passenger-style pickup truck with a cache of tools and equipment. The primary task of this smaller resource is to provide some relief to the busier, larger, conventional apparatus, like fire engines or a ladder truck, during peak times throughout the day.
By targeting specific 9-1-1 call types, the smaller resource can adequately respond and provide the necessary services to the community. The redistribution of calls responded to by the Squad has additional benefits, such as saving on fuel usage, reducing wear and tear on large apparatus, and improving resource availability, especially that of medic units.
While focusing on a more adaptable EMS staffing model, the number of transport-capable medic units staffed 24 hours per day was increased from four to five. This additional medic unit was placed into service in the Oakbrook neighborhood of Lakewood, responding from Station 24. This resource increases response and transport capabilities to serve the whole community while addressing growing call volume.
The first two words of West Pierce’s motto are “Respond Efficiently.” A timely response with the appropriate resource to each call is crucial to achieving this goal. Often times, what firefighters find when they arrive on a call is very different from what they were dispatched to. While it is impractical and unsustainable to simply send more resources to every 9-1-1 call to ensure adequate personnel and tools are available to mitigate emergencies, being flexible and adaptable is critical.
In order to provide maximum flexibility, each of the five medic units are staffed with a minimum of one paramedic and one Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). This staffing approach provides the medic units with the ability to deliver the best care possible to patients, whether they are dealing with a minor illness or suffering from a critical, life-threatening event.
These improvements will allow WPFR to continue to provide a high level of service while addressing the ever-increasing number of emergency calls. The community’s support in helping WPFR make these improvements is something everyone can be proud of.