Emergency Service

Homeless Ambulance Crew Roves

Looks like Ada County EMS has at least one homeless ambulance which “roves” while it is parked. Here is the story.

The GUARDIAN recently got the following reader query which we forward on to Ada County regarding ambulance coverage in what used to be the Whitney Fire District, but is now part of Boise City.

“Why does Ada County EMS no longer have an ambulance covering the south end of town? I was a bit disturbed to find out we would be waiting for an ambulance to come from Meridian, or even St. Als. Maybe we could get this topic listed?”

Here is the official answer:

“Ada County has not cut back ambulance service in southern Ada County. Just as in the past, the Paramedics Department continues to schedule and designate a specific ambulance unit to handle emergency calls that are reported in that section of the county.

The ambulance assigned to cover that area has been relocated to the St. Luke’s Meridian facility on Eagle Road. This move was prompted by a letter we received from Whitney Fire officials in December requesting we vacate the property by January 15th. We complied with their request and temporarily relocated to the St. Luke’s Eagle Road facility, which is 3.5 miles away from the previous Whitney location.

In an effort to ensure this temporary relocation does not adversely impact ambulance response times and the residents in the area, the department is now covering the area with roving ambulances — which is a common service delivery method in other ambulance systems. The term roving does not necessarily mean the ambulance is constantly in motion; rather, the Paramedic crew often parks near locations that seem to generate the most emergency calls in southern Ada County. The St. Luke’s Eagle Road facility, at this point, basically serves as a supply storage/restocking hub for this crew.

While this temporary delivery approach is not adversely impacting response times, we realize some people get a sense of security from knowing they have a permanent ambulance station in their neighborhood. To that end, Director Hagen is continuing to search for a more permanent location within southern Ada County and hopes to be able to identify such a location in the very near future.”

The GUARDIAN boils all this down to mean: they got kicked out of the Overland Road station and also backed out of an agreement to pay $372,000 as the EMS share of a new fire station. They are still looking for a home.

But if roving and parking are OK and response times are not impacted, why look for a new home?

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. The southeast corner of Ada County is approximately 45 air miles from the homeless roving ambulance if it is parked at St. Luke’s Meridian facility on Eagle Road. I know the helicopter would take that call but how far south can this wheeled ambulance legally travel? I like the idea of a homeless roving ambulance if it is parked in the right spot and ready to go 24/7.

  2. OH MY LORD!!!! Not only is EMS’s response mind numbing, I can’t believe that the “idiot” who wrote it would be so stupid as to do it in writing!

    We are going to take the ambulance that got kicked out of the fire department, and park it somewhere we hope to get a call so we can justify it. When will we wake up and realize that this agency is run by CRAZY people?

  3. The story above is half truths. Ambulance services like AMR (Basically the scourge in the private ambulance industry) use this delivery method which is called system status management.

    Meaning when they have enough ambulances that day they send a “Rover” to cover a district and then have that unit continue to cover districts until they get a call. Some would say “wow” what a great idea and efficient use of resources. In reality this causes burnout of paramedics and is OK if you don’t mind replacing staff every 2-3 years because they all leave after sitting on a street corner waiting for that call.

    Ada County is using this tactical version of system status management to cover a huge district (primary coverage used to be 24 hours a day and now varies based on units available) because they have to and know that reponse times ARE extended to SW Boise.

    I say tactical because they are covering a primary district, not roving into all districts to cover holes in the system at peak run times w/ extra ambulances. They messed up, don’t have a station for the 2nd busiest ambulance in the entire state and are back pedaling to try and maintain service. I’m disappointed and disgusted that they would disregard the citizens of the district in this manner as well as having their employees work in sub standard conditions. Try sitting in your car for 12 hours or more and tell me what you think about that… My question to the administration of Ada County is “How do your paramedics enjoy sitting in parking lots as they drive by the fire station they used to be located at”.

    Porta Johns would be a good investment. Also are you tracking extended response times to this area in code 3 returns to the hospital and correlating this with patient outcomes to see if any harm is derived (to the people calling 911) based on your lengthy response times? It’s always good to see a lawsuit coming don’t you think?

  4. Roving ambulance? With oil and gas prices again on the rise?

    What genius thought up that remedy?
    EMS better get an appropriate location soon. Roamin and rovin ain’t the answer.

    EDITOR NOTE–They said they would not necessarily be moving when they rove.

  5. We are talking about the health and, possibly, lives of people caught in emergencies here. I would simply like to see more cooperation between ALL emergency services not putting any in a bind. The County ambulance service would have shown a dedication to the community by not pulling out of their agreement to share quarters in a new fire station.

    The people are willing to pay for these needed services so why not cooperate with each other?
    PS- Now all we have to do is get the medical community to give us 100% of what we pay thru the nose for, maintaining our health…well how about 70%.

  6. BrianTheDog
    Feb 11, 2007, 4:29 pm

    Why not just let all the fire departments run the EMS system? Oh by the way, EMS stands for “Earn money sleeping”.

  7. I have to comment on Brianthedog’s bad joke about EMS. I don’t work for the county but I know for a fact that the Medic crews in Ada county put in a heck of a lot of work in their shifts and work through most of the nights. They sleep very little and are caring and hard working. This isn’t a butt kissing, I just can stand when ignorant people make comments without the facts

  8. Thomas the tank
    Feb 11, 2007, 9:28 pm

    Yes, lets have fire run EMS, and policemen do the garbage right? How about teachers run our kids around from home and back, doctors could bring us our prescriptions. I am sorry I don’t see the skills used to put out fires correlating to skills doing EMS.

    Look back at previous posts if you can’t remember why EMS got kicked out of the station they had on Overland. The same kind of thing probably would happen again in ten or twenty years when the Fire Dept got the itch for a new station in southwest Boise. Lets evict EMS, not take their full market value offer on a piece of realty, and then throw them under the bus on response times cause they don’t have a place to stay in this district. Perhaps poor planing on the county’s part is a very good assessment, this should be directed to the commisioners.

    EMS administration is not an elected position. EMS can’t do much of anything with out say so from the commisioners, this is where the focus of blame should be. Have you ever tried to get the three commisioners on the same page? Tried to get them to agree with any mayor or city council? What realistically can EMS do? Pay four hundred some odd thousand for another station they may or may not get kicked out of. If I recall correctly EMS’s original share was to be roughly $180,000 when it was first proposed. Sounded great to THAT EMS administraion, and THAT set of commisioners.

    Witney and Boise spent two to three years before breaking ground for what reasons I do not know. Okay now EMS your share is four hundred some odd thousand dollars. Price went up, Commisioners change, EMS administration changed, Fire Depts throw EMS under the bus by not taking a fair market offer for a fire station in hopes of turning a profit. Now if EMS had paid that amount. But wait now what if Witney decides that it wants the station back and gets out of its contract with Boise FD and then kicks out EMS, same problem.

    EMS would have NO ownership of such a station. EMS has to learn to take care of themselves. If you look at your tax dollars, EMS takes about $15 to $20 per household on average per year. How about the fire dept? can’t kind find it on your tax bill can you, its $200 to $400 depending on where you live in the county. Fire Departments cost more period end of sentance. I pay more than $50 per year for a library? I pay more for mosquito abatement than for EMS. No I don’t want higher taxes, but what do you want. If you want faster EMS, PAY FOR IT. Tell the commisioners, not the poor EMS fellas trying to save you, not the local paper, not the Guardian, The commisioners.

  9. I agree about the credibility, or maybe charitably, the ignorance, of whomever wrote the EMS response. Either it was another poor attempt at deceptive smoke and mirrors or the author is not even capable of looking at a local map.

    Go ahead and call the new “roving” location’s possible coverage WESTERN Ada county- – -But using the new location to cover SOUTHERN Ada county?? Get real!!

    At least I didn’t see a bunch of extra pronouns and other talking head language as in “The EMS ambulance crews they actually don’t have to drive too much anymore like they used to.”

  10. Tank, the EMS administration “crawled” under the bus on their own without ANY help at all! If you look at the last 10-15 years, the EMS has tried to become a “stand-alone agency” that is first and foremost completly independant of any other agency.

    Just look at the seperate headquarters on Glenwood and the fierce attempts at garnering tax support to insure their independance. EMS has gone out of their way to seperate themselves from the Fire department,(just look at some of your examples). The holier than thou attitude that the EMS administration has had, not the front line paramedics, has come full circle to bite them in the butt. It is time to meld the EMSA with the fire department and move on as a county.

  11. Tank, your lack of knowledge about Emergency Services is very apparent. There are thousands of Fire Departments across the nation that provide ALS (Advanced Life Support) Ambulance Service to their communities and guess what?…those Firefighters ARE trained and licensed PARAMEDICS, imagine that?. Boise City Fire recently started assigning Paramedics to their Engine Companies.

    WHY? So the citizens of Boise will have the best First Responders available. Chief Doug Rosin of the Kuna Fire District started a paramedic program so the taxpayers in their district didn’t have to wait 20-45 minutes for an ambulance with als capability. Kuddos to both Chief Rosin and Chief Ross.

    Ada County Commissioners recently voted in an ordinance making Ada County EMS the Sole EMS Transport Provider and Authority in Ada County, the ordinance was pushed by Ada County Paramedic Director Troy Hagen, in what I see as an attempt to save Ada County Ambulance and his position as Director.

    Hagen has shown me very little mamgement experience. He should be more concerned with providing the best ALS to Ada County possible rather than job security.

  12. The lack of a station is the result of the City of Boise’s/BFDs mis management of the situation, and their desire to bend ACP over a barrel to make up for the loss, than ACP’s “shafting the fire department”.

    The detailed discussion is HERE (for those with short memories):


    The short version is :

    BFD/Boise city wanted a ton of money to move into a property they would have no ownership over, no say in, and could be evicted at any time. It was more money than originally discussed, and was never formally agreed to in the first place.

    In short, as typical, BFD/Boise city, was trying to take advantage of another agency in a bad situation.

    As I understand it, ACP has many options on the table they have been working on since BEFORE they moved out, but the speed of bureaucracy, zoning, conditional use permits, as well as trying to be judicious with taxpayer dollars (which is what led to this in the first place) and such is keeping them from moving forward as fast as they would like.

    Of course the typical naysayers are bashing again, ignoring the big picture and the fact that BFD (and to some extent the Whitney Fire District who applied pressure for ACP to vacate on behalf of a pissed of BFD administration, IMHO) is as much or more to blame in this situation as ACP.

    Is the situation ideal? NO. Is it the best it can be…yes ..at least without handing over to BFD (bribing?) almost 400K for basically nothing, with no security, and a proven record of hostility (just look at Station 8).

    ACP’s budget does not compare to any FDs in the county, they have to be more frugal with tax payers dollars, and sometimes that means tough choices.

    Finally, ACP has had a stance that they would be willing to merger with the ENTIRE counties FDs into ONE agency, but splitting up ACP between the FD’s only serves the FDs, NOT the PATIENTS, NOT the TAXPAYERS, and not good for a SYSTEM APPROACH to MEDICINE…which is what is needed. (Can you hear me in the back???)

    This discussion is an extension of the FDs EMS bashing. WHEN The FDs stop playing turf wars with both EMS and each other….and talk seriously about consolidation…then that will be an interesting day. Until then the only agency worried about the WHOLE county (and not labor politics) is ACP.

  13. Please keep in mind that Boise Fire KICKED Ada County Paramedics out of station 21, however Boise Fire is still running an engine out of there. And they say they care about the public’s health and welfare…..right……

    EDITOR NOTE–Actually it was Whitney Fire District that did the kicking and they did it in anticipation of moving into the new Hollendale Station–there has been a delay, but they plan to move within the next month. The ambulance was welcome, but they backed out of an agreement they made to pay their share of the new station at $372,000 which Boise and Whitney are having to fund themselves out of (taxpayer) pocket.

  14. Just the Facts
    Feb 15, 2007, 10:59 pm

    Just a couple of comments about the new fire station. Ada County accepted an agreement to move into the new station for a price of $180,000. Plans were drawn up and from there the station was set to go. The plans were drawn up with everyone having their own bedroom, separate offices for fire and ems, but Ada County didn’t like the plans and asked them to be redrawn.

    Something to the effect of needing their own TV room, anyway you know how long plans take to get redrawn, can’t just go place a room someplace, you have to reengineer the whole plan, so bids for lumber and steel and copper all go up, when the new bids came back and ada countys portion is $400,000 they decide to back out of the agreement. To the point about Whitney commissioners not accepting a bid Ada county gave them for the grounds that Fire Sta. 21 sits on. I believe they gave an offer of about $400,000 for the property based on last year’s appraised value. We all know that a developer is going to pay close to a million dollars for that site. The Whitney commissioners are not firefighters or paramedics, they are looking out for the good of the Whitney district.

    I believe Ada Commissioners are looking out for an Organization and not for the people of Ada County. I gave them credit for looking out for their employees right up untill the point they passed the at will employees act.

    EDITOR NOTE–If the commishes have $400,000 to buy an old station, it seems like they would be better advised to put it into the new one with changes and sign an iron-clad deal in the process.

  15. Excuse me Mr. Editor, It is my understanding that there was no formal agreement to back out of, as has been repeatedly mentioned. Certainly if you are in on information we are not, feel free to lay it out, however my understanding is:

    1- During the discussion phase, the $$ was considerably less than the 372K. In addition to the dollar amount, there were other reasons that ACP decided not to move in…not back out…just decided the deal wasnt such a good deal.
    – Like security against eviction,
    – some agreement of co-ownership of property (it is a LOT of mony, wouldnt you want to have some stake in it for that kind of cash?)or reimbursement if evicted,
    – and lets face it, better living arangements and more responsive cooperation than found at station 8.

    2- ACP had let the parties know MANY MANY months before it was made public on this site that they were not going to participate. Therefore BFD had plenty of warning, Certainly more than the 45 days they gave ACP to vacate. Again considering the other disagreements with ACP (and that the fire department is still using the property), one has to wonder at the timing.

    3- Whitney Fire District and their cotnracting agency (Boise Fire Department) are working in concert on this one. Whitney did not tell ACP to move out with out consulting with BFD, and definitly did it (IMHO) in retailation. Whether ACP spends the 374K or the FD spends it, it is ALL taxpayer monies. Seems to me the only ones trying to spend it wisely here is ACP, and the FD is putting messing with response times (which they swear are oh so important) in their anger over it.

    Can anyone honestly say they would hand over 372K (or even 180K wich is I think the original figure) with nothing to show for it?
    Really? Can you blame them?

    EDITOR NOTE–GUARDIAN learned of the bungling business of who pays when Boise City spent excess taxes at Christmas. Actually there was NO AGREEMENT on paper at al! Boise Chief Ross was totally out of line when he told councilors who voted on funding the station that EMS was “onboard” for $372,000. It was as you are trying to say, nothing more than chat–no contract ever existed.

  16. Private business:

    If I were to tell my boss, “Yeah, by the way, I kind of forgot to get a contract signed with our partner in the project… and now we have to come up with $372,000, immediately.” My boss would instantly reply, “You’re fired.”

    City government:

    City manager, “Don’t worry, we have unlimited funds, we’ll just increase taxes to cover the shortfall.”

    Absolutely no accountability, whatsoever. Disgusting.

  17. Just the Facts
    Feb 16, 2007, 2:52 pm

    You are correct Dave when you say there was no contract in place. But Ada County was involved in the planning of the station, thats why the plans had to be redrawn. Granted the city screwed up by not having a contract, but to say the fire chief was out of line when he was doing everything to accomadate Ada County is wrong.

    Right now Ada County houses ambulances in four Boise fire stations (one of the stations is old fire station 2 which they lease for a dollar a year, which Boise city just paid to remodel) one Meridian fire station, and one Eagle fire station. Ada County doesn’t pay a dime to be in any of these stations or to supply them with necessary items.

    The fire chiefs have allowed this for the best interest of patient care, taking money out of their budgets to help out Ada County. Like Nemo says its all taxpayer monies, but there has to be some fiscal responsibility on Ada County’s part, whether that be on the Commissioners or the Director. The Second point is that Boise Fire Dept. has nothing to do with property that is located in Whitney fire District except to provide fire protection there.

    Whitney Commissioners gave Ada County a deadline to vacate the fire Sta.21 property because that was in time with when the firefighters would of been moving into the new station, and the Commissioners wanted to have that property available for sale. The date has since been pushed back because of theft of constrution materials at the site.

    If Boise Fire dept. was interested in so called “retaliation” why dont they just kick the ambulances out of all their Fire Stations? It is because it has nothing to do with Boise Fire dept. I understand your frustration Nemo I wouldn’t want to sit in the Albertson’s parking lot waiting for a call, But thats what your administration thinks is best.

    EDITOR NOTE–Your name is well deserved–Just The Facts. Our problem with the Boise chief is with intent or not he led the council to believe EMS was going to pay a portion of the new station. He had NO agreement in hand and I understand he is aware of the “screw up.” We agree the fire departments have generally treated EMS well.

  18. A couple of comments:

    RE: the OLD Boise fire station 2, It was my understanding talking with the Old Guys that ACPs movement into that station was a favor to BFD. Apparently…and Dave you have been around long enough to confirm this…that when the NEW station 2 was built and BFD was ready to move in, the North End Neighborhood Assn got very upset about losing their EMT response in the heart of the North End. The result was some old fashioned political back scratching and “Medic 57” was born, or moved to the OLD station 2 depending on the version of events.
    As I understand it, if Medic 57 was to move out BFD would HAVE to staff this station (although I don’t know why, some kind of conditional use permit).

    RE: The “TV Room” If I remember correctly (I could be wrong) it was for a room to complete required paperwork and charting, which required computers, desks, and other administrative paraphernalia. By keeping it away from the entertainment and relaxation area it promotes productivity.

  19. Just the Facts
    Feb 16, 2007, 8:18 pm

    Nemo the “TV room/dayroom” was an extra TV/Dayroom just for the medics. The previous plans had an office for fire, and an office for medics, and one TV room.

  20. Given the priceless service provided by Ada County’s paramedics, it is obvious they all deserve to be stationed somewhere other than on a street corner.

    Most Ada County medics work 24-hour shifts. Do you want a paramedic coming for your emergency if he or she has been either on calls, or sitting in an ambulance, for the past 23 hours? I know I don’t, and I live in the area covered by this crew.

    It’s time we see some appropriate leadership coming out of Ada County EMS. It starts with the department director, and ends with the Ada County commissioners. Instead of spending time and energy trying to conquer provision of all emergency medical services within the County, that time and energy would be much better spent resolving the station issue in the Southwest area.

  21. A couple of comments:

    RE: the OLD Boise fire station 2, It was my understanding talking with the Old Guys that ACPs movement into that station was a favor to BFD. Apparently…and Dave you have been around long enough to confirm this…that when the NEW station 2 was built and BFD was ready to move in, the North End Neighborhood Assn got very upset about losing their EMT response in the heart of the North End. The result was some old fashioned political back scratching and “Medic 57” was born, or moved to the OLD station 2 depending on the version of events.
    As I understand it, if Medic 57 was to move out BFD would HAVE to staff this station (although I don’t know why, some kind of conditional use permit).

    RE: The “TV Room” If I remember correctly (I could be wrong) it was for a room to complete required paperwork and charting, which required computers, desks, and other administrative paraphernalia. By keeping it away from the entertainment and relaxation area it promotes productivity.

  22. Nemo, your version of how Medic 57 was born is inacurrate. Fire Chief Ross spoke to then ACEMS Director, Fred Nelson and received a verbal commitement that they would move the current Medic 53, located where 58 is today by SLRMC, to the 17th and Ridenbaugh location. This request was precipitated by North End Neighborhood association President Kay Hummel’s complaint of service degradation that would occur by the fire engine moving to the Cartwright location.

    As a result a conditional use permit was imposed requiring that the same level of service or greater would be required before the fire engine could be moved. Upon completion of the new Cartwright fire station Mr. Nelson advised that SLRMC didn’t want him to move the ambulance therefore they would be staying at their current location. This news of course caused quite a problem in that the engine could not be moved to the new station. As a result, the fire station remained completed and vacant for a couple of months while Chief Ross and the Boise Firefighters Union put together proposals to address the problem.

    Chief Ross was able to get Mr. Nelson to agree to a part time staffing of the Ridenbaugh location but again was unable to get him to follow through on their previous agreement. Therefore, at a Boise City council meeting Chief Ross proposed to place a brush fire apparatus in the old station location during the hours that Medic 53 would not be present.

    The union proposed a BLS ambulance to be stationed there. Unfortunately, labor / management relations within the fire department were poor and Chief Ross disagreed with the union’s projected cost numbers at the council meeting. During the same meeting several ACEMS members and their medical director testified as to how horrible service would be if they weren’t the ones to provide it, et al. At the conclusion of the meeting Boise City Council member Paula Forney praised the firefighters union for coming up with a solution to the problem and charged both the fire Chief and the union with sitting down and working out the numbers to an agreeable amount to return to the council with. Shortly after hearing the council and mayors comments regarding their eagerness to revisit the BLS ambulance concept, Medic 57 was born eliminating the need.

    EDITOR NOTE–Glad I didn’t try to explain that one!

  23. Funny….now Ada County is begging Boise Fire to let them move into Boise Fire Station 14. Guess the homeless ambulance wasn’t a good idea after all.

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