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Ambulance Noise Upsets Arizona Retirees

Several times a day, according to residents in a retirement mobile-home park, a Southwest Ambulance vehicle screams out of a nearby strip mall.

Marilyn Livingston, a 70-year-old retired federal employee who lives at the complex just west of La Cholla Boulevard and Ruthrauff Road, said she appreciates the need for emergency services and respects the job emergency workers do - but the sirens are loud, and she worries about traffic problems.

"These ambulances come out of the strip mall and the cars go scurrying," she said, noting that the area has a significant amount of construction. The exit comes just as east-flowing traffic is funneled down to one lane of traffic.

"The constant screeching is a real problem," she said. "We have people in their 80s and 90s; some are bedridden and some have cancer."

Livingston has lived in the complex for four years, but she said the company has only recently begun using the corner as a satellite posting station.

She said she talked to a manager at the private emergency- services company who told her the problem was only going to get worse as the construction continues.

The Pima County Transportation Department estimates the construction project should be finished by summer 2011.

Livingston wondered if perhaps the company might consider installing an ambulance warning light for its parking-lot operation to help with traffic concerns.

Amy Lopez, a spokeswoman for Southwest Ambulance, said the company has been using the site for about nine months.

The company provides emergency transports through the Northwest Fire/Rescue District, she said, and has five trucks stationed at various locations to meet a pledged response time of getting to a scene within eight minutes 90 percent of the time.

The location is the second-busiest, she said. The ambulance has to use the sirens as it exits the shopping center, she said, so that cars know it's pulling into traffic.

While the company is currently working on getting a warning light at another location in the area, she said it's a lengthy process.

She said it was premature to say how the concerns might be addressed, since the complaint was fielded just last week.

"It's something we're looking into, but I can't say something is going to be done immediately," Lopez said.

She said that while the site currently is being used as an outpost, the company will explore finding a more suitable location in the general area in the near future.



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