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Please pull to the right and stop. It is not enough to simply pull to the right of the road and keep driving, as it is unsafe for us to pass you while you are still moving, especially since most roads in town are only one lane in each direction.
On occasion, the fire engine or ambulance will be driving with lights and sirens and then suddenly turn them off - perhaps only to turn into a shopping center parking lot or side street. Be assured that when this happens it means we have received information through our 911 dispatchers or another unit on the scene that the caller or incident is no longer a dire emergency. It is what we call "being cancelled". Any or all of the apparatus may continue to drive to the call or perhaps some will return to the fire station, but we do not do it just to get to the store faster!
No, the Fire Department's apparatus does not have lights that emit a particular frequency of flashing light that activates a control on the traffic lights to cause them to change to green in the direction of travel. This is called an Opticom system. Some neighboring fire departments do have this type of system. You may see them occasionally driving around checking them by driving through intersections with only one flashing white light.
The difference between an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and a Paramedic is a significant amount of education. A Paramedic is an EMT, but goes through significantly more education and training and can provide a higher level of emergency care including invasive procedures, such as IV therapy and intubation. There are different levels of EMT training: EMT, Advanced EMT, and EMT Paramedic. Each level requires more training and education than the prior. The Town of Mansfield operates an EMT only ambulance service, with our Paramedics coming from Windham Hospital, as needed.
The personnel on the ambulance are also firefighters. We all fight fires and we all respond to medical calls.
Several reasons. First, automobile accidents present other hazards such as potential fire, ruptured fuel tanks, and/or the presence of hazardous materials. Second, if a victim is trapped in the vehicle, there is extrication equipment on four of our fire trucks. Third, firefighters are trained as EMT's. They can assist the ambulance crew with patient care.
Though Mansfield does operate an ambulance, sometimes the closest unit to the scene is not the ambulance, or the ambulance may be busy and a second ambulance is a farther distance away. In these cases, another firefighter from one of our other stations may respond to the medical emergency in a fire truck. This is so that 1) patient assessment and treatment can be started while the other ambulance travels to the scene, and 2) in case there is another emergency in which the services of the fire truck are needed, the firefighter will not have to return to the station and change vehicles.
Fire Department units are dispatched according to information received by the 911 operator. The fire department responds with adequate resources when they are dispatched. In other words, the firefighters are prepared to deal with the worst that could happen. Discovering that we need more units once we arrive is often too late. We have learned from experience that it is better to have too much help than not enough.
This is called "venting the roof". There are two basic reasons for this practice. Dangerous superheated gases and dark smoke accumulate in a burning building. Unlike the movie versions of fires, it is impossible for firefighters to see in such an environment or for victims to survive. When a hole is made in the roof, and the building is “vented,” the smoke and gases escape because heat and smoke rise. It increases the victim’s chance for survival and makes it much easier for the firefighters in the building to see. It also reduces the possibilities of backdraft (explosion) and flashover - two very dangerous conditions for firefighters inside the building. Another reason for venting the roof is to see how far the fire has progressed. One of the fastest avenues through which fires spread is the attic. Heat and smoke rise into the attic where the fire can move quickly. Firefighters may go ahead of the fire on a roof and cut holes to access the attic to stop the fire from spreading through the attic.
Dangerous super-heated gases need to be ventilated to allow firefighters to safely and quickly rescue trapped occupants and extinguish the fire. By venting the window (horizontal ventilation) of a room that is on fire, it actually helps to contain the fire within that room of origin. Otherwise heated gases spread throughout the inside of the house. Breaking the window really prevents a great deal more damage than it appears to cause. Replacing broken glass is much less expensive than repairing structural damage from the fire.