The Villages (FL) Fire Chief Wants Departments to Take Over Ambulance Operations

Chiefs from Sumter County's two fire departments discussed their operations to members of the Ad Hoc Fire EMS and Medical Transport Committee.

According to a report from Villages-News, chiefs from Sumter County, Florida’s, two fire departments discussed their operations Wednesday night to members of the Ad Hoc Fire EMS and Medical Transport Committee.

Delays with the county’s ambulance services have forced firefighters to wait to return to service after responding to calls, said The Villages Fire Department (TVFD) Chief Edmund Cain.

Since last fall, the amount of calls to which the TVFD spent 20 to 30 minutes on scene nearly doubled, peaking in January and February at nearly 90 calls per month. Firefighters spent 30 to 45 minutes on scene for at least 40 calls each month since last December, according to information presented to the committee by Cain.

The fire service delays are identical to this year’s American Medical Response (AMR) ambulance service delays (up to an hour or more). AMR is a nationwide private company that offers ambulance service in Sumter County.

Firefighters, who are also paramedics or emergency medical technicians, typically respond in six minutes or less, but they are not licensed to provide medical transport to the hospital and must wait on scene for ambulances to arrive.

Cain said some of the delays have been mitigated by moving equipment while leaving some firefighters with the patient. About 70 percent of TVFD’s responses are emergency medical calls.

Cain said he would approve of two fire departments taking over the ambulance services rather than simply contracting with AMR, another private company, or the University of Florida. Sumter County Fire Chief Rob Hanson did not endorse an ambulance service option.

Committee members are considering 10 options to provide ambulance service outlined in May by County Executive Bradley Arnold. They are expected to make a recommendation to county commissioners by September.

Committee members and AMR representatives are expected to meet on July 7. Sumter county pays AMR about $1.2 million each year for ambulance and emergency medical dispatching; that contract expires in 2022.

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