Canadian Firefighter Magazine

Calgary Fire re-establishes second medical response unit

By City of Calgary   

Headlines News medical response

Calgary Fire's medical response unit. Photo credit: City of Calgary

Feb. 13, 2024, Calgary – The Calgary Fire Department (CFD) has re-established a second medical response unit to help manage the increase in medical calls.

These units were reinstated with council funding in the 2023-2026 budget. The first medical response unit was brought back in 2023, out of Station 1 and responded to almost 6,000 calls in its first year, making it the busiest unit all of CFD’s fleet, the city said in a press release.

This second medical response unit will operate out of Station 2. These units are dedicated, smaller vehicles that only respond to medical calls, freeing up engines and other heavy apparatus to respond to other emergencies at the city’s highest volume stations.

“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,” Fire Chief Steve Dongworth said. “By having a dedicated medical response unit in our busiest stations, we are ensuring we are still able to meet our response times.”


CFD responds to life-threatening medical emergencies like shortness of breath, cardiac arrest and overdoses. The number of responses to opioid calls in 2023 was 45 per cent higher than in 2022.

Each medical response 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.

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

It is anticipated that these medical response units will collectively respond to approximately 10,000 calls in 2024.

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