As I was doing my daily read of the most recent EMS-related news headlines, I stumbled across this interesting article. To be honest I was taken back at first, because I have always wondered why all of the cities around the OC / LA area insist on responding so many paramedics to every call. The fact that they run ALS engines isn’t what gets me, it’s the fact they use private ambulances for transport and FORBID them from providing any ALS care. This of course requires a fire-medic to ride in to the hospital and have the engine or squad follow them to pick them up at the ER. Maybe I’m just ignorant, but it seems like they are doubling their work.
To me it seems that it would make more sense for the fire department to just provide the ambulance transport themselves. Staff a paramedic who doesn’t split his/her role with any other function on the ambulance and an EMT to drive. I will never be convinced that having 4 paramedics treating 1 patient is a good idea.
This particular article is intriguing because for the first time (that I have seen), they actually want to get away from their current system and let a private ambulance staffed with a single paramedic and EMT handle the patient care. While I typically endorse this kind of change, I think the city and county need to be fair to the tax-payers. Chances are, the citizens pay some form of tax to pay for the paramedic service that is currently in place. While such a move will certainly save money, it kinda screws the tax payers. If they go ahead with a switch to private-level service, then they either need to remove that tax, or reduce it accordingly. The whole purpose of contracting to a private pay-for-service model, is the savings in tax dollars to the public, not the general fund.
I thought that this was actually a viable option until I read that the city doesn’t attempt to collect on uninsured parties, and they would expect the private service to do the same. I can say with 100% certainty that this kind of policy WILL NOT WORK without government subsidies. If they are expecting that some private company is going to come in and willingly operate at a loss, then they have another thing coming.
I personally don’t think that such a change is going to happen without some fierce resistance. I applaud their ability to think outside of the box, but I have my doubts that they will actually make this happen.