Budget cuts have forced the Phoenix Fire Department to recommend eliminating one of two ambulances in Ahwatukee Foothills.
“That’s horrible,” said Councilman Sal DiCiccio, who was surprised at the announcement Monday afternoon.
“We were supposed to talk options (with fire officials) tomorrow,” he said Monday.
The cuts were part of the recently approved city budget, which included the elimination of two full-time and one part-time ambulance for an estimated savings of $2.2 million over the next 15 months.
The proposed elimination of Rescue-38, assigned to Station 38 at Warner Road near 50th Street, leaves the centrally located Rescue 43 at Chandler Boulevard near 40thStreet as the only ambulance for the 80,000 people spread out over 35 square miles in Ahwatukee Foothills.
Also cut was Rescue 57 near 16th Avenue and Dobbins Road.
Assistant Chief Todd Harms said the recomendation was based upon call volume and the availability of a backup ambulance nearby.
“Wherever you look, the ambulances are running 8-10 calls for transport each (24-hour) shift,” said Harms. He said that the department's Deployment Committee looked to see where the cuts would have the least impact.
Rescue 38 and 43 were two of the least busy ambulances in Phoenix, with about three calls a day each, according to fire department statistics.
The recommended cut will first go to Fire Chief Bob Kahn, then to city management and the council will be briefed before it goes into effect April 15.
Once the change goes into effect Harms said fire officials will closely watch the situation in the months to come.
“We’ll evaluate this month by month and look at the call volume and the stats for out there and see what the guys tell us,” said Harms.
The original city budget called for the elimination of six engine companies plus a ladder company. But Harms said that with employee wage concessions and the council’s expansion of the sales tax onto food, the cuts were reduced.
“The elimination of these two ambulances will have an impact on the system, because we are taking two ambulances out,” said Harms. “But the strength of the system is that Rescue 32, while it is about 4-5 miles away (near 40th Street and Baseline Road), is still in a good position to provide service there.”
Plus, said Harms, with medical emergencies, advanced life support fire engines with paramedics will continue to respond and immediately begin treating patients.
“I’m not very happy with the decision,” said DiCiccio.