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Great Falls Fire Rescue will no longer handle "minor" medical calls

Great Falls Emergency Services recently received new gurneys
GFES manager Justin Grohs
Fire Chief Jeremy Jones
Posted at 4:09 PM, Jun 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-18 18:00:30-04

GREAT FALLS — Because of a large number of what are considered "minor" medical calls in Great Falls, starting July 1st, you won't see Great Falls fire engines responding to those calls anymore - instead, it will be Great Falls Emergency Services.

Great Falls Fire Rescue shifts "minor" medical calls to Great Falls Emergency Services

When a Great Falls Fire Rescue engine rolls out to respond to a minor medical call, Fire Chief Jeremy Jones said the response can put the department in a bind if a true emergency call comes in.

"If we're tied up on a call that really is not serious in nature and we have to bring a company from another part of town to cover that emergency call, we're doing a disservice to the community,” Jones explained.

Whether a call is minor or a true emergency is determined by the city's emergency medical dispatch system.

"It gives dispatchers a pre-determined list of questions to ask to determine what type of response is needed,” said Jones.

As for response times, now that Great Falls Emergency Services will be the only agency covering minor calls? "They might wait a couple minutes longer due to them only having one station and coming from that station versus us having stations all over the city,” said Jones.

Jones talks about the change:

Fire Chief Jeremy Jones

While the response times may be a little slower, Great Falls Emergency Services manager Justin Grohs said overall service could actually improve.

“Things could go even faster because a lot of times on these types of calls you don't really need five to seven personnel and it can actually get a bit congested,” Grohs explained.

As far as call volume is concerned, Grohs said GFES already responds to the calls, so not having the fire department responding won't mean an increase in calls for GFES.