Scottsdale’s own ambulance service

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The city of Scottsdale and the Scottsdale Fire Department are looking to start their own ambulance service. As of now, 911 calls connect to the Scottsdale Fire Department, but if an ambulance is required, a third party is called in.

Battalion Chief Brian Joseph said last year firefighters responded to 29,000 medical calls, and of those, 18,000 required an ambulance. The third-party company used has now been with the department for 20 years and will remain as a backup service. Patients utilizing the Scottsdale ambulance service will still be billed.

We spoke to Tom Shannon, Fire Chief for the City of Scottsdale, to learn about these potential changes.

“Throughout Arizona, but certainly throughout the central part of Arizona, we operate in a fire-based EMS system. So that means when 911 is called, a fire truck usually comes to your home to start rendering aid first,” Shannon said. “Then if your illness or injury requires transport to a hospital, sometimes that agency has their own ambulance capability and sometimes they don’t, in which case they’ll call for a third service, a private sector vendor to come provide that assistance.”

Shannon explained Scottsdale is returning back to the future, saying this is the way it was prior to 2005, and he believes it is a necessary change.

“Continuity of care is key,” Shannon said. “We’re all familiar with the telephone game, so if we pass a patient between a number of hands, there can be a degradation of clinical outcomes. Certainly, we mitigate that through training and great partnerships with everyone we work with, but really, in Scottsdale, we have committed to a door-to-door transfer of patient care, meaning when we encounter you at your residence or at your business or in the street, we are going to be the last people that touch you before a physician or a nurse does at the hospital.”

Tom Shannon, Fire Chief, City of Scottsdale

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