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Vehicle Changes Cut Town Costs

Fire department reduces use of heavy emergency vehicles.

A new business model for the Town of Mount Pleasant Fire Department (MPFD) is resulting in higher quality patient care, quicker response times, and financial savings for the department and residents. It is based on the premise that leaner, faster, and better emergency services save lives.

Call it the QRV revolution. QRV stands for Quick Response Vehicle. It is a business model in which smaller, more maneuverable vehicles are sent to emergency medical calls, in lieu of large fire trucks, resulting in faster response times. This concept has been embraced by fire departments across the nation.

MPFD rolled out the QRV program a year ago and it has proven so successful that the fire department is researching the feasibility of placing a second QRV in service. Ultimately, a fleet of three QRVs would allow the department to respond to most emergency medical calls by sending a QRV instead of a fire truck.

“Why deploy large, expensive fire trucks to emergency medical calls when a smaller SUV can do the job better, faster, and cheaper?” asked Fire Chief Herb Williams.

“More than 70 percent of our emergency calls are medical in nature,” he explained. “While national fire death rates have declined by 20 percent over the past decade, emergency medical calls have been on the rise. We needed a new business model to address the needs of our aging population efficiently and QRVs are the answer. We are thankful for our Mayor and Council’s commitment to this program.”

The savings in fuel cost alone averaged about $15,000 last year and is expected to soar as gas prices increase. The wear and tear on fire engines is also significantly reduced. Squad 507, the name given to MPFD’s first QRV, was placed in service in October 2011. It has directly reduced the number of medical calls that Engine 503 has responded to. Squad 507 is located at the Bowman Road facility and is staffed 24 hours a day with a Paramedic and an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).

“In addition to securing additional QRVs, the MPFD is working towards national medical certification for all personnel,” said Leon Boyd, EMS Division Chief. “Approximately 70% of MPFD personnel are currently certified at the EMT or Paramedic level. The level of care that MPFD responders provide our residents is the same as that administered by EMS responders. It is critical that we get there faster so that we can start lifesaving treatment.”

Jeff Davis February 25, 2013 at 01:51 PM
@Martine (the author): This all sounds good, and it certainly makes no sense on the surface to send a huge fire truck to a medical emergency, but don't fool yourself or us that this "saves" the taxpayers money. Sure the SUV might get better gas mileage, but I'd bet the vehicle cost $100,000 upfront, not to mention the extra 24/7 staffing by a paramedic and EMT. I'm not saying it was a bad decision / investment (the only bad decision is why didn't they do this 20 years ago?), just not a real cost saver. Thoughts?
Patch.com February 25, 2013 at 02:40 PM
Jeff, Just looking at the SUV, I'm pretty sure the town is using existing vehicles for this. That Ford Explorer is a couple model years old. And I don't think new firefighters were hired for this. They're simply sending an advance team in a smaller vehicle, as I understand it. That same personnel would have been in the fire truck normally.
JoSCh February 25, 2013 at 08:51 PM
Even when the government is clearly saving tax dollars there are going to be some people that just won't be satisfied. I truly wish we would/could give them Texas and make PR a state to avoid redoing the flag. Or divide California into two states maybe.

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