The City of San Luis Obispo Fire Department provides paramedic advanced life support (ALS) from all four fire stations. Approximately 60% of all SLO City Fire emergency responders are cross-trained as Paramedics. The balance of our emergency responders are cross-trained as basic-level Emergency Medical Technicians.
Medical emergencies account for approximately three-fourths of our emergency response incidents, and the San Luis Obispo Fire Department has a goal of arriving at the scene of all emergencies within four minutes (driving time from fire station to scene). Visit our FAQ section to learn more about the science behind our response time goal.
Time matters when there is a medical emergency. Within 4 to 6 minutes, a non-breathing patient begins to suffer from irreversible brain damage. That means, even if our firefighter-paramedics can restart a heart or provide oxygen to the brain, if care isn't initiated within 4-6 minutes, full patient recovery is significantly impacted. That is precisely why the City of San Luis Obispo General Plan Safety Element establishes the four-minute response standard in our community. There are other reasons for a rapid response, but getting a sufficient supply of oxygen to an ill or injured patient is the primary reason.
The scope of practice for San Luis Obispo City Firefighter-Paramedics is beyond impressive. These Firefighters, who are also trained for fire suppression, hazardous materials mitigation, and specialty rescue techniques for open space, vehicle, and structural collapse emergencies, are trained and equipped to provide out-of-hospital care for virtually any medical emergency they encounter. Our firefighter-paramedics provide cardiac care to chest pain patients using the latest in 12-lead EKG technology. They carry 26 emergency medications to treat a broad range of chronic and acute medical emergencies. Paramedics are trained to secure an open airway, including the use of new fiber-optic video enhanced laryngoscopes.
In the City of San Luis Obispo, we place a premium on staying with our patients from door-to-door, from the door of your home or business to the door of the Emergency Room. We enjoy a great partnership with our private provider of ambulance transportation, and their paramedics are extremely competent. We realize though, that every time a patient is transferred from one provider to another, there exists more opportunity for information to be lost. We also realize that once we've established rapport with our patients, we stay by your side whenever possible because we care for your emotional well-being as well. There are times when we transfer care to the ambulance paramedic due to various circumstances our Fire Captains will consider, but we make a sincere effort to keep that to a minimum. We seek to provide you the same level of skilled, professional, compassion care we would all want and expect for our family and friends.
Before we declare our services complete, our Fire Captains and crews take time with the patient, family, and even bystanders to close the loop on information (without violating patient privacy rights). We provide the patient or a family member with our "You are our Mission" information and feedback card. This card provides the patient with the incident number of the emergency, the identification of the crew who provided care, follow-up phone numbers for the Fire Department, and a link to an electronic survey that provides an opportunity for feedback. Once submitted, the results of each survey is immediately delivered to the Fire Chief, Deputy Fire Chief, and all Battalion Chiefs. We are honored to serve this community and take your feedback very seriously. We hope you never have reason to call on our emergency medical services, but if you do, we hope our focus on compassionate, skilled care is apparent.