MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — St. Paul’s Fire and EMS Team is busier than ever before. Calls are up more than 30%, and most of those are for medical assistance.

It’s the call that no one wants to make. It’s the call St. Paul EMTs and firefighters answer.

Like many, it took Patrick Carr a few years to figure out a career path. He took classes at St. Paul EMS Academy and it clicked.

“That’s when I found out I have a passion for emergency medicine and being able to go out in the streets and help people when they are in need,” Carr said. “Very hands on work, and I just love that sort of thing.”

EMT Patrick Carr, a member of St. Paul’s Basic Life Support unit (credit: CBS)

And his skills are in the highest of demand. As the population ages, medical calls are skyrocketing — so St. Paul is taking a new approach.

“We are adding to make it more robust so that the citizens get the service they need and they deserve from our department,” said Assistant Chief Matt Simpson.

They are doing that by employing a new EMS unit that answers lower-end medical requests, like falls, stomach pain and cuts.

“If they need stitches, they don’t have a way to get to the hospital, that’s what this ambulance will be able to take care of — keeping that advanced life support, for the strokes, the cardiac arrests, the major events that happen,” Simpson said. “It’s really a win, win for everyone.”

The Basic Life Support, or BLS, just hit the road on Monday. They’ve already answered 32 calls. It’s up to the dispatcher to decide if a patient gets a BLS rig or a full ambulance rig.

Carr is one of 17 who will answer the newest call to duty.

“There might be opportunities where I can really save someone, and I’m looking forward to that,” Carr said.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield