Clackamas Fire hires first non-firefighters
Clackamas Fire recently hired four "single role" non-firefighter paramedics to staff two smaller medic units to help meet the increasing demand for emergency medical response in the district.
"This is the first time Clackamas Fire has hired non-firefighters and we are looking forward to the flexibility and service delivery these single-role paramedics will provide throughout the community," said Clackamas Fire spokesman Steve Hoffeditz.
The paramedics work in pairs to respond to medical calls in vehicles that are much like standard ambulances, which keeps Clackamas Fire's "heavy apparatus," such as ladder trucks, available for more hazardous incidents. All four of the new Clackamas Fire paramedics came from American Medical Response.
"The people that we got have years of experience," Hoffeditz said.
Two single-role paramedics are assigned to each of two medic units in the Clackamas Town Center and Oregon City Hilltop areas. They serve as the primary response for emergency medic calls for the busy geographical areas for such calls. Clackamas Town Center's Station 1 just started receiving service from the district's newest medic unit Feb. 6. Hilltop was assigned a medic unit in 2016; the station is temporarily housed at Clackamas Community College's OC campus until the new Hilltop station is constructed on Molalla Avenue.
Clackamas Fire's Oak Grove station is one of the busiest in the district, so Clackamas Fire placed its first paramedic unit there a few years ago. Response times in the unincorporated area are further challenged by Oak Grove's many hills.
Oak Grove's station used to run with only three round-the-clock firefighter-paramedics, but with the hire of the single-role paramedics, there are more firefighter-paramedics to go around.
Oak Grove now has six firefighter-paramedics during the busiest times of the week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, when the medic unit is on duty. During all other times, four firefighter-paramedics (rather than the standard three) serve the Oak Grove station.
"We saw a reason to put an extra firefighter out there to beef up the manpower," Hoffeditz said.
Clackamas Fire District #1 is responding with medic units after experiencing significant increases in emergency and non-emergency calls year after year. In 2017, Clackamas Fire responded to nearly 24,000 calls, up from 17,000 calls in 2012. Much of the increase stems from 911 calls related to emergency medical incidents.
Responses to many emergencies — such as motor-vehicle crashes, structure fires, public assists, weather-related events — require "heavy apparatus," which include fire engines and heavy-rescue vehicles deployed out of community fire stations.
Prior to the medic units, Clackamas Fire often had two firefighter-paramedics in a heavy apparatus tied up as they completed transport missions to OHSU or Legacy Emanuel Hospital, acute-care facilities in Portland.
"Having the medic units keeps our firefighters in the district," Hoffeditz said.