PFA's Roving Alternative Medical, or RAM, unit is an alternative-response vehicle that will be on the streets from now until Dec. 31, 2018.This is the second time the RAM program will be piloted at PFA, with the first pilot running from January to June 2017.

For decades, medically trained firefighters have responded to medical calls, along with our partner agencies. As PFA's call volume continues to tick upward -- our agency tallied just more than 22,000 calls for service --, we know that sending a fire engine to every call isn't the most efficient use of resources.

Enter RAM1, a two-person SUV that can more nimbly and dynamically respond to medical calls throughout PFA's 235-square-mile service area. The idea of right-sized response is identifying a problem and determining what types of resources -- people and apparatus -- are required to solve a problem.

Data from the initial pilot period in 2017 show an improvement in PFA’s response reliability when RAM is operational. What does that mean?

The two-person RAM crew will respond to low-acuity medical calls -- think of an older adult falling at a senior care home or a slip on the ice at a school playground. Dispatching the RAM unit allows PFA’s engine and truck crews to be available in their service areas more often to respond to more serious medical calls, as well as fires, motor vehicle accidents and other emergencies.

PFA is piloting the RAM program a second time to see if we can replicate those same improvements. Using historical data, the RAM will be assigned to areas where calls are anticipated. Unlike traditional fire department deployment models in which engine and truck companies are geographically fixed, the RAM is flexible. It’s not married to any one station area or staging area for the entirety of the pilot.