Fire department launches pilot program

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The Vancouver Fire Department is piloting a new way to respond to medical calls. During the three-month trial, stations will send a sport utility vehicle staffed by a paramedic and an emergency medical technician to lower priority medical calls instead of a firetruck and full crew.

Fire Chief Joe Molina collaborated with department staff and union leaders to develop the project based on recommendations from a citizen committee. Molina believes keeping fire engines available for life-threatening emergencies and fires will improve response times.

The two new rescue SUVs will be in service 10 hours a day, four days a week during peak hours throughout the city and Fire District 5.

The new program begins 1 p.m. Monday at Fire Station 5, 7110 N.E. 63rd St.