SUNNYVALE (KPIX 5) — When Isaiah Peoples drove his car into a crowded crosswalk in Sunnyvale last week, the city’s police officers, firefighters and paramedics were uniquely qualified to respond to the sprawling crime scene in which eight people were injured.

In Sunnyvale, police, firefighters and paramedics are cross trained to perform each other’s jobs.

“A patrol officer could provide that basic medical aid to the victim as opposed to waiting for fire personnel or EMS personnel to arrive,” said Chief Phan Ngo describing his department’s public safety model.

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The city of Sunnyvale has a unified Department of Public Safety rather than separate Police and Fire Departments. New recruits to the department cycle through police, fire and paramedic academies and field training.

And while sworn officers may spend years serving as police officers or firefighters, they always have the option of switching jobs and roles.

“Our emergency scenes run very, very smoothly. We’re able to anticipate what the fire side may need if you’re on patrol and vice versa,” Officer Stephen Cronin said.

Cronin typifies the unique versatility of the department’s model. He spent the balance of his 13 years in Sunnyvale working as a police officer on patrol. But he’s also done stints on the fire department and is a trained and certified fire instructor at the city’s Fire Academy.

The Department of Public Safety in Sunnyvale has nearly 70 years of history, dating back to 1950.

Chief Ngo says his police officers were able to quickly render aid to the injured at last week’s crash, even before firefighters arrived.

“It’s that basic aid — medical aid — that we provide to the victims at the scene. That’s the advantage we have over other models,” Chief Ngo said.

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