Newport Fire-Rescue wants to stop responding to minor medical emergency calls – leave those to PacWest Ambulance
Newport Fire Chief Rob Murphy says calls for service from his department continue to rise to where they’re sometimes responding to multiple calls at the same time which stretches his small department rather thin.
This week, Chief Murphy said he is proposing to change response procedures by ascertaining the seriousness of a medical 9-1-1 call before they respond. If someone falls at home or on the job, and they need a trip to the hospital, PacWest Ambulance would respond like they always do, but not NECESSARILY with a fire crew to back them up. Chief Murphy says if it’s a 300 pound person, yes they’ll respond in order to have the manpower to get the patient in and out of the ambulance.
Chief Murphy says routine medical calls are putting more wear and tear on their fire trucks and other vehicles when the situation can be handled quite well by PacWest on their own. Chief Murphy adds that it’s becoming more common that while the fire department is enroute to a “lift assist” or an “allergic reaction,” a call for service due to a traffic crash or a house fire is delayed as they must divert from the minor medical call to the house fire or traffic crash. Minutes count in those situations.
Chief Murphy says his requested changes in response procedures, in close coordination with PacWest Ambulance, will take time to coordinate and make sure response priorities make sense and don’t endanger lives. He says it’s common for small fire departments like Newport to see their calls for service rise over time, which puts a strain on personnel and equipment, not to mention longer response times.
Chief Murphy says both PacWest and Newport Fire are absolutely committed to the highest service levels possible based on resources and manpower. He says the new protocols would not go in to effect until all logistics and medical priorities are worked out.