Hillsborough County Fire Rescue is committed to doing what it takes in order to help to community stay safe.

As Hillsborough County continues to grow, so does the need for development, including things like grocery stores, health care facilities and even emergency services.

Recognizing the rising demand for emergency response, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue (HCFR) has introduced five additional reserve ambulances, each staffed with a three-person crew, to operate during peak hours of need. This strategic move aims to enhance response times and ensure the community receives timely medical assistance.

With the rapid population growth, HCFR’s first responders are experiencing increasing strain, often responding to up to 20 medical calls per shift in some of the county’s busiest neighborhoods. Two-thirds of the ambulances in Hillsborough County are frequently operating at unsustainable levels of utilization, causing delays in response times and making it more challenging to serve the community effectively.

“The new peak-hour ambulance initiative already is impacting the communities with the highest daily call volume,” said Robert Herrin, public safety information section chief for Hillsborough County. “The peak ambulances have alleviated the call volume for the primary units in their respective areas, allowing those units to remain available longer in their first alarm districts.”

While HCFR has not yet faced these challenges, the increase in demand causes a risk of fatigue and burnout among the overworked first responders, potentially leading to retention issues within the department. The introduction of additional ambulances serves as a proactive measure to prevent these issues and maintain a high level of service.

“The crews that work these 12-hour shifts at the busiest times of day have reported that the peak-hour shifts are busy with a goal of helping Hillsborough County Fire Rescue shorten response times in some of the busiest communities in the county,” said Herrin.

Using data and analytics, Hillsborough County determined where the extra ambulances could best alleviate the strain on existing crews. Each peak-hour ambulance is assigned a 12-hour shift in the areas with the highest need, with operations having started on May 1.

The implementation of these additional reserve ambulances shows Hillsborough County’s commitment to adapting to its growing population and ensuring the well-being of its residents. By addressing the demands for emergency services, the county is taking important steps to maintain efficient and effective response times in order to protect the health and safety of the community.

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