Inquiry on ambulance switch warranted

The City Council should not only be briefed on Santa Clara
County’s impending ambulance service switch, they should engage in
an agendized discussion about the ramifications
– and possible savings – for Gilroy.
The City Council should not only be briefed on Santa Clara County’s impending ambulance service switch, they should engage in an agendized discussion about the ramifications – and possible savings – for Gilroy.

After 30 years, the county appears poised to abandon American Medical Response for cost reasons and hire a new company, Rural/Metro, which seems to be proposing more ambulance service for South County. The details are not set in stone yet, so it’s the perfect time for the Council to get involved. Could Gilroy save money by trimming firefighter/paramedic expenses since more ambulance service is quite possibly on the horizon? How many more vehicles and paramedics will Rural/Metro place in the area? Inquiring Council minds should want to know these important details.

Every city budget dollar spent for training, and personnel counts these days and the city should take an honest look at what services are delivered, whether there is unnecessary duplication and, of course, what that service costs residents.

There should be a way, for example, for dispatch personnel to quickly and accurately distinguish when an ambulance is needed as opposed to a fire truck. New laws, like the one which takes effect in California in 2011 requiring all new one- and two-family homes and townhouses to be equipped with fire sprinkler systems, are changing the landscape.

Logically, fewer and fewer fires should mean more ambulance service, which is far less expensive, and a reduced need for firefighting service.

Perhaps Rural/Metro would step in and lend a hand to Gilroy with a needs assessment survey with an aim toward reducing emergency service costs which continue to weigh heavily on the city budget.

With a Council retreat scheduled in January, this topic represents one of the big picture questions that should be thoroughly and creatively vetted.

Meanwhile, the county should thoroughly consider all the angles before making this move final. Rural/Metro has had some questionable financial dealings in the past which prompt questions that need to be asked and answered.

While that process goes on, Gilroy has a chance to conduct a reflective inquiry on how the change might benefit the city and its residents.

The topic should be put on the agenda and the necessary background material provided for a lively, and hopefully productive, discussion.

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