Ambulances & Vehicle Ops, News

Friction Smolders Between San Jose firefighters, County Jail

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose Fire Department’s single biggest customer is the county jail, which despite having a round-the-clock, on-site infirmary summons firefighters nearly once a day for emergency medical calls.

Fire officials say that’s four times the per-capita rate of the city’s population at large. But perhaps three out of four of those calls, firefighters say, aren’t really necessary. They say jail staffers often are dialing 911 not so much because paramedics are needed to save a life but simply to have an ambulance transport a patient to the hospital. And those unnecessary calls, fire officials say, make them unavailable for emergencies in the community.

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