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Medical Response Unit to Help Offset Increase in Medical Calls

By February 14, 2024No Comments

The Calgary Fire Department (CFD) today announced a second Medical Response Unit is now in service to help manage the increase in emergency medical first response calls.

CFD responds to life-threatening medical emergencies like shortness of breath, cardiac arrest and overdoses.

These are dedicated, smaller vehicles that only respond to medical calls, freeing up our engines and other heavy apparatus to respond to other emergencies at our highest volume stations.

These units were re-established with Council funding in the 2023-2026 budget. The first Medical Response Unit was brought back in 2023, out of Station 1 (Downtown) and responded to almost 6,000 calls in its first year, making it the busiest unit all of CFD’s fleet. This second Medical Response Unit will operate out of Station 2 (Beltline).

In 2023, CFD responded to 52,000 medical calls, which is up 18% compared to 2022, and represents over 55% of CFD’s total 2023 annual call volume. Medical calls represent more than all other types of calls combined.

“Fire trucks are designed to fight fires. Bringing a lighter vehicle instead with medically trained staff and equipment will help make sure that we get the right resources to the right kinds of calls quickly,” said Chief Steve Dongworth. “By having a dedicated medical response unit in our busiest stations, we are ensuring we are still able to meet our response times.”

Each unit is staffed with two firefighters. The vehicles are not designed for patient transport. Firefighters remain with the patient until Alberta Health Services EMS arrive and often support them with patient care and transport throughout the call.

Fast facts:

  • Each year, CFD responds to over 70,000 fire and fire-related incidents, critical medical interventions, motor vehicle collisions, hazardous conditions, specialized technical rescues including water rescues, and calls for public service assistance.
  • CFD has 43 fire stations and 1,415 firefighters providing life-saving emergency assistance to Calgarians and visitors across 848 square kilometres.
  • It is anticipated that these Medical Response Units will collectively respond to approximately 10,000 calls in 2024.
  • The number of responses to opioid calls in 2023 was 45% higher than in 2022 (4,765 vs. 6,889).


Sean Chu

Sean Chu arrived in Calgary from Taiwan in 1985 speaking not a word of English, and within 7 years he was a sworn officer with the Calgary Police Service. From that point on Sean worked with the Calgary Police Service as on Officer for 21 years in a number of roles until 2013.

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