Jacksonville's 4 additional rescue units will cut down on response time

Advanced features of new vehicles should also limit employee injuries

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Four new rescue units joined the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department Wednesday, giving the city enough advanced life support vehicles for one to be based at every fire station.

Jacksonville leaders said this marks the largest rescue expansion in the department's history and will ensure quicker response times and better public safety.

A ribbon-cutting for the new vehicles was held Wednesday at Station 37 on Busch Drive on the Northside. The other new units will be based off at a station on Commonwealth Avenue on the Westside, on Western Way in Baymeadows and, in the Argyle area once a new fire station is completed.

JFRD expects to respond to more than 160,000 emergencies this year, and an average of 87 percent of the calls the department gets are medical related.

The national standard in response time for the first arriving transport unit is eight minutes at least 90 percent of the time. JFRD has struggled to reach that standard in the city's outlying and newly developed areas.

"It's a domino effect when you have a fire station or district that has no rescue unit in it," said Chief David Castleman, who heads the rescue division of JFRD. "That means a rescue that serves another area or another district has to respond into this area to take the run. That means the citizens in that community are without a rescue unit, so when a call comes in, we pull a unit from another district and they chase each other around all day long. So this is a tremendous help for this area."

The advanced life support units come with state-of-the-art equipment, including the ability to load a patient with the press of a button, which will minimize lifting injuries and worker's compensation claims.

Over the next year, all the current rescue units will be replaced with newer vehicles.