AFD looks to add vehicles to assist with paramedic calls, cut response times

By: Rebecca Atkins

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque Fire Department is often pretty busy, but it’s not always fires they’re responding to.

“In the fire service across the country, medical calls make up about 80 percent of the total calls if not more,” said AFD Assistant Chief Gil Santistevan.

He said in Albuquerque it’s actually closer to 85 percent. Last year alone, AFD responded to 91,731 medical calls. There were only 13,205 non-medical calls, including fires.

“It’s a significant number obviously,” said Santistevan.

For a basic call, he said a large fire engine is almost always sent out, and some citizens have a problem with that.

” A lot of people, what they are looking at when they go by and see a fire truck helping somebody who’s ill, is wondering why we’re spending this kind of money to go to a paramedic call,” said Albuquerque City Councilor Don Harris.

So, Harris and AFD have been working together to bring an Alternative Alert Vehicle to the city, to help cut down on response times.

“It’s not a big red truck, it’s not an ambulance,” said Santistevan.

The vehicles are often SUVs.

“Their responsibilities would be related specifically to basic medical intervention,” he said.

The units would be fully loaded with the tools needed for medical and paramedic calls. The hope is to keep the large fire engines available for more urgent calls.

“We are looking forward in making sure the services that we provide are efficient,” said Harris.

A site in a growing area near Juan Tabo and Central is where Harris and AFD have discussed putting the first Alternative Response Vehicle. They said it’s because there are so many down and out calls along the east portion of Central Avenue.

“It would take some of the pressure off the firefighters that are helping the down and outs,” said Harris.

Santistevan said AFD is still in the discussion phase, but they are working with an architectural firm that is working on a study to determine whether this site would be feasible for an Alternative Response Vehicle.

He said they have also discussed getting one of the vehicles on the west side of Central.


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