Need to call 911? Why CalFire is changing how they respond

New system to respond to medical calls

Cal Fire Emergency Command Center in Perris

PERRIS, Calif. - Most 911 calls in Riverside county end up in the pit of the Cal Fire Emergency Command Center, however, under a new system, not every call is treated the same.

"We understand that there's a certain expectation that when individuals call 911 that they receive the resource red lights and siren but that is not always the best or most efficient use of that resource," said Daniel Talbot, Cal Fire / Riverside County Fire Chief.

Dispatchers triage callers with a series of questions. The caller's answers determine the severity of the emergency and whether a code 3 response with lights and sirens or a code 2 response without that is better for that emergency.

"No one's not coming, no one is coming slower, its an immediate response, we're just not going to drive with the lights and sirens," said Doug Key, Regional Director for Emergency Medical Response.

A 'Code 3' response allows fire engines to drive through traffic, that means a faster response time but also a greater risk of injury to the public and first responders.

"We're just saying its more appropriate for us not to go lights and sirens in some situations and jeopardize the public and our own care providers. We're still always going to be there and we're still always going to come," said Key said.

The difference in response time between a 'Code 3' and 'Code 2' is estimated around 30 to 50 seconds. Therefore in some situations driving slower could actually be the safer option

"They are going to get rapid service. 'Code 2' versus 'Code 3' is not really the most important piece. The fact that they get medical care and that medical care and those professional rescuers arrive safely and are highly trained and that's what they're going to get," said Bruce Barton, Director for Emergency Management for Riverside County.

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