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Sarasota County Fire Department launches Medic-20 pilot program.

The Sarasota County Fire Department has a new way of saving lives.

Crews have launched a pilot program they said has already been so helpful, they’re planning to expand it to neighboring cities.

It’s a new truck that didn’t cost them any money. They simply found a new way to use their battalion chief’s response vehicle.

It’s shiny, it’s red, it’s Medic-20. The Sarasota County Fire Department repurposed it just over one month ago and it responds to 10 to 15 calls every day.

Friday, April 5 is just about three weeks away from Easter, but even when the snowbirds leave, the area is still bustling.

“Sarasota just gets busier and busier,” said Division Chief Carson Sanders with the Sarasota County Fire Department.

More people, means more emergencies.

“This year, just the first quarter, we’ve seen about a 3 percent increase in our call volume,” Sanders explained. “Sarasota County is right on the cusp of approximately about 70,000 calls a year. A large majority of those, being EMS calls.”

The Sarasota County Fire Department said many people use 911 for emergencies that don’t need an ambulance.

For example, things like cardiac and respiratory arrest, where every second before paramedics get there counts, but the patient may not need to be transported to the hospital.

That’s where Medic-20 comes in.

“We’re responding out with what we call a non-transport unit, rapid response,” said Division Chief Sanders. “It allows us to get on scene very quickly with highly trained paramedics.”

Medic-20 has the same equipment and personnel as an ambulance, but crews said it gets on scene faster and frees up the ambulance for those life threatening incidents.

They also add that about 60 percent of the calls Medic-20 responds to don’t need any other resource.

The Sarasota County Fire Department said this pilot program will last for 90 days. After that, they’re already planning to launch it again, but in the Venice area.

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