Detroit firefighters now trained to handle priority medical runs

Detroit mayor Mike Duggan announced Thursday morning that firefighters at all 33 active fire stations in Detroit are now cross-trained to handle medical runs. Mayor Duggan was joined by the city's fire commission, several firefighters and other city leaders to detail the training the department has undergone over the past two years.

"For a department of this size to make this kind of a transformation in two years is nothing short of magnificant," Duggan said during the announcement. "The people of Detroit are safer today as a result, and I wanted to be here to celebrate the fact that every engine and rescue squad company in the City of Detroit now has medical first responder capability, no matter where you are in the city."

Firefighters will now be able to go on priority medical runs to not only save valuable time, but also save lives.

A man who went into cardiac arrest on Christmas was brought back to life by cross-trained firefighters. John Samuels Jr. was there for the big announcement to share his story.

"I'm thankful that everything did work out in a seamless manner, because I've had CPR at my job for over 30 years; I know the importance of CPR. I know sometimes in class we play around a lot, but now I know what CPR can do until the right people came through," Samuels said.

Officials say last year firefighters were able to respond to a scene quicker than EMS on about 12,000 occasions.

"Sixty percent of the time, if it's Code 1, you're going to see a fire engine respond even ahead of the ambulance - and that's good for everybody," Duggan says.

Of the 840 firefighters in the city, roughly 600 or so are currently certified to be first responders and the rest will be there soon. With the help of EMS, the response time has gone from 10 minutes to 8 and a half minutes, which puts Detroit close to the national standard.