The Rescue Division saves lives every day in Jacksonville by providing 24-hour emergency medical service throughout 840-square miles of territory. In 2016, the men and women of the Rescue Division responded to more than 10,000 EMS calls per month and transported patients to hospital emergency rooms in more than 60 percent of those cases.
Jacksonville has been at the national forefront in the development of the modern rescue service since 1967, when then-Mayor Hans Tanzler ordered the fire department to begin providing emergency ambulance service in the wake of a city dispute with the private ambulance companies and local funeral homes that had been providing that service. Working with area doctors, the department began the unprecedented step of training Rescue crews in advanced emergency medical procedures, developed and equipped the modern rescue vehicle so common on the streets today, and became a national model for advanced life support units.
Today, the Rescue Division has 47 Advanced Life Support transport units strategically placed throughout Jacksonville. EMS training consists of advanced cardiac life support, basic life support, CPR, advanced airway management, stroke and myocardial infarction training and more. On every emergency medical service call, the department sends fire apparatus and a rescue vehicle. All firefighters are qualified emergency medical technicians and all 55 fire engines and 12 ladder trucks are furnished with advanced life support equipment and have at least one paramedic assigned to the unit. The department's goal is to begin emergency treatment as quickly as possible.
The Rescue Division is home to the S.W.A.T Medic tactical operations team that works in conjunction with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office S.W.A.T Team. Tactical Medical team members are all certified reserve police officers trained for inner perimeter and entry cell operations. The division is also home to the Bike Team, which provides emergency medical services in areas unreachable by motor vehicle, and the JFRD Honor Guard, which serves at funerals of fallen firefighters. The Rescue Division is under the supervision of Chief David Castleman.