SPOKANE, Wash. – The Spokane Fire Department said Thursday that two people are alive thanks to a program called Automatic Aid.
On Wednesday afternoon, a mother and daughter were hit by a car in the North Spokane Costco parking lot. Officials said at one point, the mother was pinned under the car and crews had to lift the car to pull her out safely. Spokane Fire officials said the automatic aid program saved their lives.
The automatic aid program is an agreement between fire departments that the closest crew will respond to the incident no matter what jurisdiction it falls in. In the case at Costco, it was in Spokane City Fire jurisdiction but crews from Fire District 8 and 9 were closer, so they responded immediately, saving precious time in a life threatening situation.
“They respond just within minutes and take action. If we would've had to wait for our closest unit because of the busyness of our system, at that exact point in time, there would've been a delay,” said Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer.
It sounds like common sense that the closest responder would go, but that has not always been the case. The automatic aid program has been in place for a few years but officials said we are just now seeing the biggest benefits. It took time to build the dispatch system and other technology that makes it possible. Schaeffer said it has saved eight lives just seven days.