Eliminating an ambulance is short-sighted

Dear Editor:

Really, the city wants to decrease the number of ambulances in Ahwatukee Foothills from two to one, to serve an isolated community of 80,000.

If this is a re-structuring thing then maybe you should get an independent outsider to take a look at how you operate this service. The fire department, which operates the ambulances in Phoenix, responds to emergency medical calls 86 percent of all their dispatches. Yet, they have less than 50 percent of their total on-duty equipment as ambulances. Perhaps you should be running this system as a business because a ride to the hospital in an ambulance can be billed at nearly $700, for a basic ride, not including any supplies that were used. The fire department claims they are collecting 81 percent, which is better than most collection agencies.

This is a revenue generating service! You should be expanding it instead of decreasing it. If the fire department can use less of the expensive fire engines and ladder trucks, they can save on repairs and replacements by utilizing a more cost-effective and equally useful ambulance.

The next closest ambulance to Ahwatukee would have to come from the north side of South Mountain (as explained in the March 26 article in the AFN, “Local ambulance could be on budget chopping block”). That would take from the citizens of another district, who would be sacrificing that service, and back-up for that area would come from somewhere else, thus depleting service from that area, creating a domino effect.

Being involved with emergency medical services for nearly 25 years, I have seen enough to know that planning is key to a successful service. Statistics are used in every facet of planning and daily operations in order to get the most out of that service. Look at your statistics!

To the council members of Phoenix: How can you explain to your constituents that they waited for an ambulance and it may or may not have contributed to the worsening of his/her condition? Getting a fire truck to a scene does not automatically assure that the problem is fixed. Yes, there are some field procedures that can temporarily fix what the problem may be, but transporting a patient to a hospital, where there are doctors, skilled nursing staff, equipment, additional medications (not found in paramedic kits) and comfort, that is the real treatment. There should be no excuse for delay of transportation due to lack of ambulances.

If you, or a family member, had to wait for one, I am confident that it would never happen again. Treat others as you would like to be treated.

Brian O’Leary

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