Fire Department name change reflects shift to EMS calls

March 18, 1997|By Kristina M. Schurr | Kristina M. Schurr,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

It's an emergency -- who ya gonna call?

Well, it used to be the Anne Arundel County Fire Department.

But not anymore.

The department formerly known as Anne Arundel County Fire has a new moniker: Anne Arundel County EMS/Fire/Rescue.

The new name reflects an essential shift in services, said Stephen D. Halford, county fire administrator.

"We used to be a fire department which occasionally handled emergency medical services calls. Our system has now evolved to the point where we are really an EMS department which occasionally handles fire calls," Halford said.

About 65 percent of the department's 44,045 calls in 1996 were for rescues or ambulances. Fire calls accounted for about 22 percent. Rescue calls -- people trapped in car accidents and elevators, for example -- accounted for about 13 percent, the department reported.

Halford said he believes changing the name emphasizes the department's commitment to providing emergency medical services and to changing the traditional view of some firefighters that EMS is not as skilled or important a job as fighting fires.

"We must completely transform our organization's culture so that it values emergency medical services work equally with that of our traditional firefighting role," Halford said.

The department hopes its new name won't confuse county residents.

People who dial information seeking the nonemergency telephone number of the "Fire Department" will continue to receive the correct information, said department spokesman J. Gary Sheckells.

Pub Date: 3/18/97

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