Photo courtesy of Portland Fire and Rescue.

Photo courtesy of Portland Fire and Rescue.

Portland Fire and rescue crews have been using large SUVs as rapid response vehicles rather than a full-size fire truck for traffic collisions and other calls.

The four GMC Yukon SUVs were introduced in August to relieve the large apparatus on medical calls, which has resulted in a significant cost savings, said Ron Rouse, a unit communications officer.

More than 80 percent of the unit's calls are for medical emergencies. Response times have fallen at four stations using the vehicles.

"The specially-equipped SUVs get better mileage and their maintenance and repair costs are much lower than for full-sized fire apparatus, saving the department thousands of dollars," Rouse said.

Firefighters carry the same medical supply equipment in the SUVs as the would on a fire apparatus. Two fire engines were retired to pay for the SUVs, reports KATU.

By Paul Clinton