Change in Guntersville Fire & Rescue medical call response aims to save time and money

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. -- Guntersville Fire and Rescue officials made a change to the way they respond to medical calls. It's a change they say can save dollars, minutes, and ultimately, lives.

Twists and turns, steep inclines, and narrow stretches make up some of Guntersville's streets. That's easy enough for a smaller vehicle to handle, but for a large fire truck, it takes careful maneuvering and time is precious.

Medical calls are the majority of the calls that Guntersville Fire and Rescue gets. So Chief Brian Waldrop made a change, keeping in mind the constant wear and tear on the older vehicle that typically responds.

For now, responders will be in a smaller vehicle, an SUV, when there's a medical call. "It's cost-effective because you don't have the wear and tear, and the maintenance is much less on a smaller SUV verses a fire engine," Waldrop explained.

That's one of the factors he weighed in the decision. Also, a smaller vehicle can respond through the steep, tight turn stretches quicker, when every second counts. "Some of our medical calls go to the State Park and some other distant areas, to where the smaller unit can get there much quicker," Waldrop added.

That shaves minutes off of the response time. "Five minutes could be a matter of life or death for someone," Waldrop said.

Waldrop added they'll decide if this method is the best way to go, but so far, it seems to be. "We're serving our citizens better, and also helping ourselves money-wise by using the smaller vehicle," he said.

If the situation calls for it, officials will modify their response vehicle. The smaller SUV and the fire truck have the same equipment to respond to those medical calls.