Calif. county issues scathing report on emergency responses

Report highlights practice of sending truck or engine fire crews to medical calls


By John Woolfolk
Contra Costa Times

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — A Santa Clara County civil grand jury on Wednesday called for a wholesale rethinking of fire departments and emergency responses, arguing that sending firefighters to what are now mostly medical calls is outdated and wasteful.

A report by the watchdog panel found that 70 percent of fire department calls are medical emergencies, and just 4 percent are fire-related. But even so, firefighters respond as if they are heading to a fire, sending a crew of three or more on a truck or engine costing an average of $500,000 — five times the cost of an ambulance.

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