My dept. was one of the first in Louisiana to incorporate an ambulance service into the fire dept. We are probably unique in the way we run it. We're a small dept. of about 50. We have three stations that are inside a college town of approx. 25,000. We provide fire protection for the city but our ambulance service serves the whole parish...for emergencies only. There's a few private services that do non-emergency calls.
Our mayor wishes to get rid of our ambulances and go with a private service. We've been fighting it for a few years because the majority of us would like to see us keep our fire-based EMS. We do have a minority that's beginning to think...if we didn't have ambulances...we would have less to do. It probably is 80- 90% of what we do.
I just want some points of view.
In NE Ohio almost all fire departments handle the EMS. The only ones that don't handle it within the FD are the major cities (Cleveland, Akron, etc.) We have to be medics to get hired for the most part. It is probably 80-90% of our calls. It is also job security for the very reason.
In my county, we have a two tiered system with a private transport agency handling all patient transport to hospitals. Several fire departments here have transport capable rescue units and my agency is one of a few that have an emergency transport agreement with the county and the transport agency.
If you guys have transport, fight to keep it. Once the politicians start slicing up your department and taking away services that you provide, they will go for the financial jugular and start trying to take away jobs. Good documentation, quaility service, and strong public relations on the part of your local are vital to saving the careers of your brothers and sisters.
You have the same size department I do. We run ambulance for the city only. However, we also do non- emergency calls. If you want to keep your service, you may want to consider doing these. I know it doesn't sound appealing but this are the bread and butter, meaning that they pay the best. Your city revenue would greatly increase. This may also give you a chance to provide more staffing and better equipment with part of the revenue. I used to work for a department that also made long distance transfers. They made a lot of money this way. A two hour ambulance drive (each way) sucks at 3:00 am though. As far as cutting out ambulances all together, you are leaving the door wide open for your city to go to a part volunteer department. You should strongly encourage your members to consider the consequences of this.
We run first response Limited-Advanced rescue, with private provider transport ALS. We tried to get transport but got denied by the city and private company politics, no big surprise. All new members need to be EMT-Specialist (Intermediate) or Paramedics. We run all citizen assists and EMS calls (nothing filtered out). Not having calls filtered has good and bad points as you well know. Keeps is busy and numbers up, but lots of BS we end up clearing from without doing much. Still necessary though, because the private company comes from the middle-of-nowhere a lot of the time. Keep your EMS any way you can, the alternative (private service) for the pubic you serve is a worse option.
My current department does transport. The city took over the hospital based system which was in the city ten years ago. Our city officials have discussed multiple times of looking a private ambulance company taking over our transports. We currently provide ALS service for county as well. That too has come up for discussion. I am all for us providing the service but I am not sure if we will continue. The city is looking for funding from the communities we service and the reception has been less then pleasant from the majority of the towns we provide service. The next year will be interesting. We have new majority in the council and all the towns and villages contracts will be up at the end of the year.
Here in Columbus Ohio we handle it. We have 32 ALS Ambulances staffed with 2 Paramedics & all 34 engine companies are staffed with a medic & are ALS. We handle about 125,000 calls for EMS a year, most are BS. The system is so abused, we have become home doctors & taxi service to the ER for BLS or basic illness calls.
I am a Medic with the ST. Louis Fire Dept. IAFF Local 73. I am stationed at Engine House 12. We are a city of around 300 plus thousand. And during the week work hours over one million people are in the city. We ran 72,000 EMS calls and 32,000 Fire calls last year. We only have 13 ambulance to cover all 911 calls in the city. My truck runs about 12 calls in a 12 hr shift. Now The Fire Dept took over the EMS from the health Dept in the late 1990. If this didn't happen they were going to close Engine Houses . I strongly believe that Fire based EMS is the way to go now days. It also makes firefighters better trained . And it puts tax money to better use.
My department does handle all emergency calls with a a private ambulance service that handles scheduled transports. Our mayor has made the comment that if times get any worse transporting will most likely go away. It is not profitable for our City and the privates will come in immediately and take over plus they will pay the city. We have an analyst trying to crunch the numbers to show some benefits to the city and the citizens. Make sure your union is politically active and if you have any friendly voices on the council you talk to them and see if they can persuade the mayor in another direction.
Like your department EMS is most of our work. Without our ambulances we would probably not have jobs. Besides keeping us busy it also brings in a lot of revenue for the city. I'd fight to keep transporting and remind the politicians that a private service will not be able to provide as quick of a response time and will drop the level of care that the citizens are recieving now. Good luck with this. Hopefully you don't lose it.
My department runs 2 BLS transport ambulances. The members assigned to the ambulances are fire fighters and operate in a fire suppression role on the fire ground unless there is a victim found prior to entering the fire building. The ambulances are a huge asset to our dept. and our city because they bring in a decent amount of money by billing for services. We like to let the residents know that they are getting more for their money by having ambulances on duty around the clock and that these guys are 4 extra people that we have to operate at fires, haz-mat, rescues, etc... Our city is similar in size, 6 sq. miles, 25,000 pop., 6,000 calls per year. Probably 65% EMS runs. www.newlondonfirefightersunion.org