Medical first response models in rural villages and towns: A simulation study of response times


emergency medical services
rural health services
spatial analysis
computer simulation

How to Cite

Pappinen J, Olkinuora A, Laukkanen-Nevala P. Medical first response models in rural villages and towns: A simulation study of response times. Australasian Journal of Paramedicine [Internet]. 2021Jan.3 [cited 2023May28];18. Available from:



Medical first responders (MFR) shorten the response times and improve outcomes in, for example, out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. This study demonstrates the usability of open geographic data for analysing MFR service performance by comparing simulated response times of different MFR models in rural town and village settings in Finland.


Community first response (CFR) models with one to three responders obeying the speed limit were compared to a volunteer/retained fire department (FD) model where three responders first gather at a fire station and then drive to the scene with lights and siren. Five villages/towns, each with a volunteer/retained FD but no ambulance base within a 10 km radius, were selected to test the models. A total of 50,000 MFR responses with randomly selected buildings as potential responder and patient locations were simulated.


In central areas, the simulated median response time for the one-responder model was 1.6 minutes, outperforming the FD model’s simulated response time median by 4.5 minutes. In surrounding rural areas, the median response times of one- and two-responder CFR models were still shorter (15.0 and 15.9 minutes, respectively) than in the FD model (16.4 minutes), but the FD model outperformed the three-responder CFR model (16.8 minutes).


Open geographic datasets were useful in performing logistic simulations of MFR. Based on the simulations, CFR without emergency vehicles may reach patients faster than FD-based MFR in central areas, whereas in surrounding rural areas the difference is less pronounced.


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