When someone calls 911 to report a fire or smoke in their home, everyone knows what to expect. Fire trucks ranging from pumpers to tower ladders show up, each with their own crew. The firefighters are wearing their Scott-Paks and enter the owner’s home and do what they have to do to contain and knock down the fire. There is lots of equipment, hoses, water, firefighters, officers, medical equipment, and vehicles in sight, but this is expected when the 911 call is for a fire call.
But what should you expect when the call is for a signal 9, a rescue call? Most people are not aware of what is going to happen. I would like to describe a signal 9 call and the actions and events that take place in a cardiac emergency. It sometimes is intimidating, but I feel if you understand how we operate and what protocols are being followed, you will feel more comfortable with all the activity going on around you.
The siren sounds to signal a rescue call, one long wail. Our pagers go off and we hear, Oyster Bay alert, chest pains, the address (with side streets). Those of us who have signed up for it also receive information about the call on our cell phones as a text message.
The first volunteers to respond are the Chiefs and other Officers in their vehicles. They are allowed to go directly to the call. Unless the call is directly on the way to the firehouse, all other responders go to their firehouses. Medical technicians ranging from paramedics to CFRs get on their respective vehicles in each of our firehouses. For the OBFC #1 it is 5516 or 5526, whichever ambulance is first due. Firefighters help out by driving and riding shotgun in each vehicle. The person who is shotgun controls the sirens and the radios so the driver can concentrate on the road. FireCom is notified by each vehicle that they are 21 (on the way) and what level of medical is on each vehicle. The Chiefs also hear this on their radios and they know we are on the way. The NCPD also dispatches a vehicle to each of these calls.
The Chiefs and other Officers have arrived at the call. This can be anywhere from 4 to 6 vehicles and 4 to 8 people. It is an 83 year old male, seated in a chair, in an upstairs bedroom, complaining of chest pains and difficulty breathing. The Chiefs and other Officers who are medical personnel initiate treatment by starting the appropriate oxygen therapy, taking a set of base line vitals, finding out how bad the pain is on a scale of 1 to 10, getting medical history, if any medications are being taken, whether there is a cardiac history, when the last food was taken in, and, what brought on the symptoms. They have also brought in an AED (automatic external defibrillator) just in case it is necessary. They hear on their radios that the medical vehicles have given their 22 (they are at the address of the call). The Incident Commander radios that he wants a stair chair brought up to carry the patient down in, and he wants the stretcher by the front door. There can be as many as 10 people arriving on the scene at that moment. A car from the NCPD also shows up. The two drivers stay by their vehicles monitoring the radio in case extra equipment is necessary.
The medical team goes into the house with the stair chair. It is ascertained that there is enough medical in the house, so the rest of the responders wait outside. We understand that this many people going in and out of someone’s private residence is very disturbing. While the stair chair is being set up, the Chiefs and other first responders are giving all the information they have gotten to the medical team that will transport the patient. Since this a cardiac call, the technician in charge will be a Critical Care Technician or a Paramedic. Other EMT-Ds will also be on the team. The patient is placed in the stair chair, portable oxygen still on, and he is carried down the stairs. The technician in charge and other EMT-Ds head to the ambulance and start setting up the necessary equipment. This will include an IV set up to get fluids and medications into the patient and to take blood samples, getting the EKG (Life-Pak 12) ready to monitor the patient’s heart, and getting the onboard oxygen ready to take the patient off the portable. Once the patient is brought down he is placed on the stretcher and is rolled to the ambulance. All responders are now leaving the house. Information is given to the PO for their report. The patient is placed in the ambulance and the medical team starts their triage and leaves for the hospital. The other responders and vehicles leave the scene. The 13-7, except for 5516 is given. (The call is over except for the ambulance.)
So, as you can see, you are setting in motion a visit by a considerable amount of people who want to do the best for the patient. Again, this amount of people arriving to enter your residence is daunting. I hope that this information helps to diminish the surprise. By the way, there is a better number to call than 911. That number first calls the police and then FireCom is notified to tone out the Oyster Bay Fire Department. If you call 742-3300 this gets you FireCom directly and saves time during the critical call. I hope all this helps you to get through a serious event more smoothly.