KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When you call 911 in Overland Park, Kansas, the fire department hopes it can get a paramedic and EMT to you quicker than in the past.
The fire department opened a new squad house on Jan. 1. Squad House 49 hosts at least one paramedic and one EMT, and at times two paramedics.
It’s on the west side of Overland Park, near 119th and Westgate streets, in an area that’s seen an increase in the number of medical calls to 911, hitting more than 2,000 in 2018.
“When someone has a medical emergency, and more specifically a cardiac arrest as an example, it's important that we get there as quickly as possible, if we're going to intervene and actually save that person's life,” explained Jason Green, the department’s chief of emergency medicine.
There is no firetruck at a squad house, just an SUV equipped with most of the life-saving tools on an ambulance. Sending paramedics in a SUV as opposed to a firetruck saves from wear and tear and keeps the truck in its primary location ready to respond to fires, which is its primary role.
An ambulance from Johnson County Med-Act meets the crew from the squad house on location to transport a patient to the hospital, when necessary.
In 2015, the department opened its first, and only other, squad house near 103rd Street and Nall Avenue. Data from the department shows response times in that area have improved from nine minutes and 18 seconds in 2014 to six minutes and 26 seconds in 2018.
The department hopes for similar results around Squad House 49, which would now be the first unit to reach Johnson County Community College and two nursing facilities on the west side of town.