PHL Launches Alternative Response Unit Pilot

The Philadelphia Fire Department’s (PFD) newest Alternative Response Unit – known as AR30 – recently went into service at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). This pilot program stations emergency medical personnel in the airport terminal to provide a quick response to passengers and employees who need immediate medical attention. PHL joins cities such as Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, Charlotte, and San Francisco in having either a roaming unit or medical facilities within the terminal complex.  Medic Unit

“Providing care at a moment’s notice can be a matter of life and death,” says Martin McCall, the PFD’s Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Emergency Medical Services (EMS). “With AR30, we aim to reduce response times to travelers, airport staff and airline crew members with urgent medical needs.” 

The two PFD medics assigned to AR30 respond on a non-transporting medical cart with advanced life support capabilities including CPR, AED, IVs, heart monitors, medications, bandaging, and other patient care equipment. The unit, which is based in Terminal C, operates from 8 a.m.– 8 p.m. and provides help to anyone inside PHL’s terminals behind the security checkpoints.  

For emergency situations outside of these areas, and in the event that a passenger or employee requires transportation to the hospital, the Fire Communications Center will dispatch Medic 30 from Engine 78, the PFD’s firehouse at PHL. Medic 30 is a fully equipped ambulance staffed by medics who can provide emergency care and transport to the hospital. Many travelers experiencing a medical issue refuse to go to the hospital because it will impact their travel plans. Having AR30 in the terminals to provide quick and professional EMS care is critical.  

AR30 has already received positive feedback from employees and passengers. “It has been a long project and we are happy it finally came through. We understand that it's a pilot program and that's why we are closely monitoring the performance of AR30 to see if we can make it a long-term commitment,” says Airport Fire Chief Kamau Bright.  

Bright noted that -- in only their second week of service -- AR30 medics initiated life-saving care for someone in cardiac arrest after arriving at the scene in only about a minute. Ultimately, the person was taken to the hospital by Medic 30.  

The timely response and immediate actions by the members of AR30 gave the patient a chance to survive. This is the reason that the AR30 project was developed by Airport Fire and Operations and approved for testing in the terminals. If you happen to see AR30 in the terminals, feel free to say hi to the newest emergency resource at PHL. 


Media Contacts

Christine Ottow
Director of Strategic Communications
[email protected]
Heather Redfern
Public Affairs Manager
[email protected]

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