Ambulance service marks first month

Sara Van Cleve
Posted

Arvada Fire Protection District took an average of 26 calls per day in its first 31 days of service since the city began providing its own ambulance services on March 1.

The amount of service was slightly above average said Emergency Medical Services Chief Dave Mitchell.

“It’s been great so far,” Mitchell said. “We’re focusing on providing the best care from the beginning of the call to the end.”

The decision to start running its own ambulance service was made in November 2010. Previously, Arvada Fire contracted with Pridemark Paramedics to provide ambulance services. Pridemark was sold to Rural/Metro in October 2010. While Rural/Metro-Pridemark had always provided great services, and continues to do so as Arvada Fire’s backup, Mitchell said Arvada Fire had been looking to run its own ambulances for a while.

“It was a road we wanted to go down and with our budget for existing personnel and the project, it was a feasible idea,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said the new ambulance service does not cost residents any more tax dollars and service fees are actually slightly cheaper than when it was contracted out.

Arvada Fire now runs four ambulances — all of which have modern technology and medical equipment.

In addition to equipment to treat and transport patients, the ambulances also have electronics that help paramedics better serve the district’s residents — including electronic patient care reports, which allow dispatch to send up-to-date patient information to paramedics en route.

The patient care report is then updated with information about the treatment the patient received through paramedics and follows the patient to the hospital, if they are transported.

“It’s all about seamless patient care,” Mitchell said.

The ambulances also feature modern sirens, which help ensure nearly every car on the road hears them coming, and a GPS that tells paramedics the fastest way to get to calls.

The ambulances also have four-wheel capability. Because the vehicles are higher than standard ambulances to allow for four-wheel, the vehicle automatically lowers when both of the back doors are open to allow for a patient to be placed in a vehicle easily.

Arvada Fire hired 17 new paramedics to add onto its previous force of 10. Each paramedic has paramedic certification and is trained and certified to perform CPR, advanced cardiac life support and pediatric advanced life support.

Once hired, they were all certified as firefighters through the city’s fire academy. One hundred percent of the newly-hired paramedics passed the state fire exam on the first try; the average passing rate is 33 percent on the first try, Mitchell said.

Each paramedic spends six months serving on an ambulance and six months on a fire engine to keep their skills sharp, he said.

“We’re realizing the benefit of having everyone under one roof,” Mitchell said. “They’re training together and building relationships. We’re really focusing on seamless patient care. Together we can debrief calls and learn from each team went through to better anticipate things. That’s our biggest improvement.”

Kody Allen, a firefighter and paramedic who was hired when Arvada Fire started its program, said he is excited about Arvada Fire’s new opportunity.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for us to serve our citizens with our ambulance transportation services,” Allen said.

In March, Arvada Fire took 827 calls, two of which were sent to Rural/Metro-Pridemark for backup services, and transported 568 patients.