Letter: Response times are disturbing


When lives are on the line

I read a very disturbing article in the June 21, 2017, Chronicle that must be addressed. The article is on page 8 about an elderly man who had collapsed at Horseshoe Bend from an apparent cardiac episode. The article told how it took 15–20 minutes for EMS to arrive on the scene.
Why so long when time is VERY critical in cardiac episodes? Where was the fire department? Why didn’t they call for assistance from surrounding agencies? Why not Classic Helicopter? Why not the NPS ambulance?
If you are not familiar with the workings of the fire department, they have fulltime personal 24 hours a day, but very little back up as the reserve/volunteer system that is at its lowest manning of all time. If the fire department gets more than two calls at the same time, the city is left without manning unless an off-duty firefighter responds to the station for coverage. The scenario has repeated itself on more than one occasion. I’m aware of at least one call where a tourist on a bus at the airport had a medical situation at the same time the fire department was on a call of a shooting, and then a student with an injury on the football field at a practice. The student was transported by a patrol officer. The call at the airport was eventually covered but after a lengthy response time.
The fire department ambulance service is regulated by the Arizona State Health Department who issue a Certificate of Necessity, which regulates response times that MUST be strictly adhered to. There is some leeway but very little. A timely response to medical calls is essential for survival. If the response times continue to be deficient, the city could lose their CON for non-compliance, which would mean we, the citizens, would no longer have an ambulance service. This opens the door for a private company to provide the service, and that could take many months for a CON to be issued by the state.
Wake up city and look at your manning at the fire department. Either increase your manpower or bring back the reserve/volunteer program. Another option is for the fire department to pull out from the city and form a fire district paid for by fire district taxes we already pay for through the state.
Timing is extremely critical and must be addressed immediately.

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