What happens when you call 911 in a medical emergency?

Firefighter Alex Kowalenko carries the medical supplies firefighters use when they arrive on a medical call.

You or your loved ones experience a medical emergency. In a panic, you call 911 and speak to dispatch.

Then what?

During your call, dispatch radios the Claremore Fire Department and Pafford Emergency Medical Services with your address.

Firefighters and paramedics drop what they are doing and run immediately to their trucks, fully supplied with medical equipment at all times.

Each fire truck has basic first aid supplies as well as a blood pressure cuff and a pulse fingertip oximeter.

The ambulance has more advanced medical equipment, including heart monitors, ventilators and the equipment required to intubate a patient – forcing a tube down their throat in order to open their airway.

The average response time for the Claremore Fire Department, which has three trucks on duty within the Claremore response area during any given shift, is four minutes.

The average response time within Claremore for Pafford EMS, which has six trucks posted at locations across the county, is seven minutes.

Arriving on the scene, Claremore Fire Captain Zane James said, “certain guys are great at certain things, and we all just fall in to our roles.”

They all put on gloves as they enter the home and locate the patient.

One firefighter immediately begins basic first aid, checking the patient’s airway, breathing and circulation.

Another, the individual on the engine with the most medical training, will interview the patient or any eyewitnesses to determine the symptoms and possible causes.

Meanwhile, the captain records everything and keeps an eye out for potential hazards. In extreme circumstances, the captain will radio dispatch to ready helicopter transport.

“It’s a beautiful dance,” said Firefighter Rick Bitting.

“The key component is knowing your guys and being able to trust them,” said Lieutenant Zach Sherman.

Around 80 percent of all calls the fire department responds to are medical, and several firefighters within the department are trained paramedics.

The captain consults with the ambulance service as they arrive about the symptoms, needs and physical condition of the patient.

The fire department passes off patient care to Pafford’s team of two paramedics and assists with loading the patient into transport.

During transport, one paramedic sits in the back of the ambulance with the patient and continues to administer aid as needed.

The ambulance escorts patients in a non-life threatening condition to Claremore Hillcrest or the Claremore Indian Hospital.

For life-threatening emergencies, patients are transported to a larger hospital in Tulsa.

Depending on the medical condition of the patient and the hospital chosen for transport, you should arrive at the hospital between 20 and 45 minutes after the first call is made.

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