AFR program reduces non-emergency calls, improving response time

Local News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A new Albuquerque Fire Rescue program is making it easier for crews to get to emergencies faster. They have a new partnership that helps them hand off non-emergency calls and free firefighters up for things that can turn deadly.

One of the most common calls AFR sees are “32 Bravos.” They’re down-and-out calls where someone sees someone lying on the street or in a public place, appearing as if they need help, sometimes passed out or unconscious. Firefighters say these calls often tie up resources.

“Oftentimes, those people don’t need EMS assistance or they don’t have a medical component tied to it,” said Lt. Tom Ruiz with Albuquerque Fire Rescue.

Now, they’ve partnered with the city’s security officers to go out to these initial calls. This saves AFR’s firetrucks and services for more serious events like a structure fire or medical emergency.

“With the city sending out these security officers instead of sending a fire truck, what it’s shown is that a lot of times, it keeps a fire truck free to respond to the higher-acuity calls,” said Lt. Ruiz.

It’s a program already helping improve response time to these higher-need calls. AFR says security officers are also patrolling and searching for these people passed out, which can prevent a concerned call from ever tying up 911 dispatchers.

“They’re also proactively going out and interacting with some of these people that are maybe even perhaps just sleeping in a public space. That’s preventing that 911 call from even getting to our dispatchers, so that call never even comes in,” said Ruiz. “By taking a more proactive approach to some of these calls, we’re preventing those calls from even getting into our 911 dispatch center, which is keeping our front-line units free for those most important of calls.”

The security officers are also trained in lifesaver training to administer Narcan for an overdose or stop a traumatic bleed if a person does need help until AFR can respond.

“They have the lifesaver training which is one of the programs we’ve started to implement for all city employees,” said Ruiz. “When these city security officers go out, they’re also armed with these basic life-saving techniques so if they do need to administer Narcan to somebody or if that person does have a major bleed, they can begin that process while we’re on the way.”

Since starting the program last month, AFR says 67% of those unconscious person calls that came in, did not need emergency services. AFR says this improves response time when crews are not tied up with these calls, prompting firefighters outside of the district to instead respond.

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