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Fire-Rescue Department

Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

When faced with a life-threatening situation, people want medical help as soon as possible. In the city of San Diego, that help usually arrives first in a fire engine.

9-1-1 calls are screened by dispatchers who are trained in emergency medical dispatch (EMD) protocols. 

Most fire departments send a fire engine (first responder) to all 9-1-1 medical calls. San Diego Fire-Rescue triages 9-1-1 calls and sends a first responder to approximately 65 percent of 9-1-1 calls; those in which there is a potentially life-threatening condition where every minute counts. San Diego County EMS Policy requires two paramedics respond to all life-threatening calls for service. Ambulances are staffed with one emergency medical technician (EMT) and one paramedic and first responders have a minimum of one firefighter/paramedic on every crew.

With 49 fire stations strategically placed throughout neighborhoods, and an average of 42 ambulances throughout the city, a first responder often arrives on the scene of an emergency more quickly than an ambulance. The paramedic/firefighter is soon reinforced by an ambulance with a paramedic on board.

First responders also provide full paramedic care and augment ambulance staffing during the transport of critical patients. The captain on each first responder is a city supervisor and addresses any on-scene logistical or legal issues and ensures compliance with San Diego Fire-Rescue Department and Falck policies and procedures.

As the City's EMS contractor, Falck provides San Diegans with 9-1-1 services in the city of San Diego and emergency ambulance services at the San Diego International Airport.

For special events coverage, email or call 619-375-9215.

For billing questions regarding ambulance services that were provided prior to Nov. 27, 2021, please contact AMR San Diego.

Emergency Medical Services Program

The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Program provides oversight and administration of the City's contracts for EMS and medical transportation services as well as the City’s EMS Medical Director. The Program is mandated through a City-County contract and ensures high-quality emergency medical services through clinical oversight, quality assurance and improvement, monitoring of first responder paramedic units and the transport provider's response times, and the financial and operational oversight of the entire EMS system.