Article Highlight | 9-Feb-2023

New response plans allow cross-trained firefighters and EMS workers to respond to either call, saving millions of dollars

Emergency personnel trained in fire and EMS can increase response efficiency

Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences

INFORMS Journal Manufacturing & Service Operations Management New Study Key Takeaways:

  • Replacing current, traditional fire/EMS response systems with a new plan can increase efficiency and monetary savings.
  • The new model pools together firefighters and EMTs rather than having separate fire engines and ambulances respond to incidents.
  • The fire-medic system results in yearly savings of more than $3 million.


BALTIMORE, MD, February 9, 2023 – According to a new study, changing the response plans for fire and emergency service personnel is proving to have top-dollar savings. New research in the INFORMS journal Manufacturing & Service Operations Management finds that pooling resources to have cross-trained fire-medics respond to both emergency medical calls and fire incidents, rather than having firefighters respond to fires and emergency medical personnel respond to medical incidents, can save more than $3 million a year.

“Our evaluation of the fire-medic system in St. Paul, Minnesota, shows the large productivity advantages of a combined fire-medic response system as compared to the traditional approach of having separate fire engines and ambulances,” says Arthur Swersey of the Yale School of Management.

The study, “Cross-trained Fire-Medics Respond to Medical Calls and Fire Incidents: A Fast Algorithm for a Three-State Spatial Queuing Problem,” was conducted by Swersey alongside Cheng Hua of Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU).

The authors found cost savings of more than $3 million a year by determining that 33% additional personnel would be needed under the traditional system to achieve the same response times as with the fire-medic plan.

“This research develops a queuing or waiting line model that is used to evaluate the performance of the fire-medic system. Our work has widespread applicability to even the largest cities, in the United States and in foreign countries,” says Hua, a professor in the Antai College of Economics and Management at SJTU.

“With the trend of declining fire department demand, and budgetary constraints, cities are under pressure to close fire stations. But a far better alternative is to implement this novel fire-medic system,” concludes Swersey.


Link to full study.


About INFORMS and Manufacturing & Service Operations Management

INFORMS is the leading international association for operations research and analytics professionals. Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, one of 17 journals published by INFORMS, is a premier academic journal that covers the production and operations management of goods and services including technology management, productivity and quality management, product development, cross-functional coordination, and practice-based research. More information is available at or @informs. 




Ashley Smith



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