Emergency Service

Trucks For Fires, Not Medical Runs

GUARDIAN reader “Clancy” provided the photo above for what he said was a recent medical call on Americana. He calls the response–two police cars, an EMS supervisor, an ambulance, and a 100 foot aerial ladder–ABSURD.

He is correct and the GUARDIAN has met with new fire chief Dennis Doan to discuss a more reasonable approach. We have suggested a reallocation of fire personnel and some sort of fire department “medical cars” to prevent sending half million dollar rigs designed to fight fire tearing all over town.

The reason the ladder responded on this call was because the normal response vehicle–#5 engine–was probably already out on another medical call. Our plan would require some additional firefighters, but it would be much more efficient use of staff and equipment in the long run.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. The really infuriating portion of this debacle is that it will result in 5 responses on call logs when they go for budgetary increases next year!
    We will listen to the top officials ask for more money because ” just look at the calls we have to respond to!”

  2. Oh come on… when was the last time that we had an issue that needed this truck? I would guess not very often, but if we didnt have it and we needed it you would screem.

    But since they have it would you rather they keep it parked and never pull it out? Are they using this everyday for this…that would be wasteful but its better than letting it rot in place.

    Everyone needs practace runnning thier own equiptment.

  3. Most likely *not* driving that monster for three or four miles could save enough money to make a payment or two on a small, efficient vehicle that could get the fire folks there quicker, too (wouldn’t have to wait for four or five lanes of traffic to get stopped before it could turn a corner, for one thing).
    I also have seen fire trucks arrive at a medical call *after* the ambulance was already there. Yet they say the reason for sending a fire crew to a heart attack or chocking call is because the fire trucks happened to be closer. And I can’t even guess why *two* police cars showed up. (Don’t those guys have radios anymore?)
    Whole system seems to need a bit of review and a dose of common sense.
    Thanks to the Guardian for helping to get the ball rolling.

    And to be clear: I’m definitely not criticizing the firefighters, ambulance crews or cops for the way these things happen. They’re all doing their best to help us when we need help. Any implied criticism in my note is aimed squarely at those who should have figured out by now how to coordinate things so scenes like this wouldn’t occur.

  4. I hope your plan lets us disband the EMS. All we need is the Fire dept. response vehicle and ambulances with a driver. Fire Dept. personnel could ride along during transport for medical expertise.

  5. Sounds to me like a bunch of “armchair quarterbacks” trying to sound like they know what they are talking about. Yes, there may a little overkill now and then, but wouldnt you rather have it that way if they were responding to an emergency call at your residence or business?

    EDITOR NOTE–Jane, the issue is really coordinating the responses and providing a more reasonable vehicle to get the same people to the scene. Fire stations are scattered around the city, but they are all full of FIRE trucks which handle up to 80% medical responses…like sending ambulances to fire calls.

  6. I agree with the guardian’s point on this one (Eagle Fire does this, and it seems to work great for them), however I do need to do some educating for Cyclops and Gordon.

    In this area we always send a Fire crew along with the Ambulance to a standard medical call. This provides assistance for the Paramedics, as the Firefighters are all EMTs. They also can provide the lifting assistance to the patient (getting them into the gurney) as well as helping the patient into the ambulance while the Paramedics are working with the equipment, providing medication, interperting heart rythmys, etc. Granted there are some instances where Fire may not be needed, but they are usually cancelled by EMS during those calls.

    Another reason is that the Fire units are USUALLY closer than EMS. The national standard that EMS/FIRE agencies strive for is to get the first unit onscene within four minutes of the 911 call.

    A few years back I worked for an agency that provided a 911 ambulance service, without a fire response. I always wished we had the fire response like this area does. It can save lives, and make a large difference. Several times we needed the additional help when a simple ‘breathing difficulty’ call turned into a code blue, or something similar.

    Some may say that they can request the additional help if it is needed, however if I am injured and they need the help I do not want to wait another four minutes for the help to arrive.

    As far as the cops go: This call was probably not a simple medical call. Police only respond when there is some underlying circumstance. Either a combative patient, crowd control needed, a potential overdose, etc. And the fact that an EMS supervisor also responded to this call shows that it was something above your standard chest pain call.

    The bottom line is that the emergency services will always produce a ‘worst case scenario’ response. Because when things go really bad, minutes count.

    Again, I agree with the guardian. Boise could at least equip a few of there stations with a smaller QRU (quick response unit) and add a few more fire fighters to ensure the proper fire response was available.

  7. I think LJ hit the nail right on the head, except that Eagle fire has started using fire engines to respond to medical calls. The other “quarterbacks” really should get all of the facts before they talk.

  8. Thanks LJ for the overview, but I have been on the “fringes” of the EMS/BFD fight since the beginning! The point is not that fire department personnel are on the scene, the point is that they are the ONLY ONES that should be there. EMS needs to be folded into the fire department and then done away with. Emergency calls should be made by BFD FIRE/PARAMEDICS,and they should be the ones that provide medical stabilization and then turn the patient over to private ambulance services for TRANSPORT! Just like it used to be before ACEMS started building it’s little fiefdom. Between the two, all the bodies for lifting will be available and there won’t be a fire truck sitting idle on a medical call.
    Now, I know a lot of you don’t want to do this because, if you did, the BFD just lost 80% of it’s call log. But, in the end, why don’t we start looking at this from the perspective of the folks paying the bills!

  9. Long time reader first time writer
    Apr 30, 2008, 11:56 am

    Usually, I don’t feel the need to respond to senseless remarks however the fact that people are speaking with out all of the facts is infuriating.

    The particulars on this call per the dispatch – Initially 911 was dialed do to a possible intoxicated person, hence the police response. Once they arrived on scene they determined that it required a medical response. So they asked dispatch for medical assistance. In Boise when there is a medical call a fire unit and ambulance are dispatched. The ambulance usually carries two people one is at least an EMT-basic the other a Paramedic. An engine carries two FF/EMT-basics and one Captain/EMT-basic, in some stations one of the firefighters is a Paramedic as well. In this instance Engine 5 was unavailable so Engine 8 (Overland and Orchard) was dispatched instead. The call happened to be just down the street from Station 5 also home to Truck 5. The captain on Truck 5 must have heard the call realized that it was just down the street and that the truck, although slower than an engine, could beat engine 8, thus improving the EMS service to this Boise citizen in need.

    Although I am not 100% sure as to how the Guardian would run EMS in this city/county I do believe I have a general idea and some questions. Lets just say that Station 5 is staffed with 1 squad (a ALS trained crew of 2), 1 engine (3 Firefighters), and 1 Ladder Truck (4 Firefighters.) And this same incident occurs, the squad is assigned elsewhere and a second call comes in just blocks from the station. Does the engine then respond to the call or do they sit idle while a second squad from farther away responds past the station to the call? If there is a third call in this area and it does happen…does the ladder truck sit idle and let another unit from further out respond in? And if these squads are running all over the city who will be covering their district should a call come in? Also is it cheaper to buy at least 16 more apparatus and hire two more firefighters to staff those apparatus then to run as we are today and use the ladder trucks for an occasional call. This money may be better spent by placing a fourth firefighter on the engines to provide more hands on an emergency scene, better efficiency, better firefighter safety and to meet NFPA standards.

  10. Well said, cyclops.

  11. I like when the BFD drives the fire truck to the store to buy a frozen pizza for dinner. That is a good use of tax payer money!

  12. Blazing Saddle
    Apr 30, 2008, 3:26 pm

    Now, I’m no expert, let’s get that out of the way right now.

    Still, this LJ person sounds reasonable, but said some curious things.

    Like, “assistance for the Paramedics, as the Firefighters are all EMTs. They also can provide the lifting assistance to the patient (getting them into the gurney) as well as helping the patient into the ambulance while the Paramedics are working with the equipment, providing medication, interperting heart rythmys, etc.”

    Sounds to me like the paramedics can’t exist without the fire crews, but the fire crews can do just fine with out the paramedics. Sounds to me like the paramedics ought to turn in their keys and save us all some money.

  13. TNT, the reason they take the truck is that they are required to. If a call comes in they can respond immediatly without having to go back to the station to get their truck.

    I do agree with the other posters here that EMS should be merged into the fire department.

    As far as the cops showing up there is no real expense there as they are on patrol anyways, maybe it even saves some money since they actually park and get out of their cars on these calls.

  14. Clancy's Brother
    Apr 30, 2008, 3:47 pm

    I saw that monster also dispatched to a call last Friday afternoon near the Capitol. Cannot verify it was a medical call or not.

    Assuming that firefighters are dispatched, it makes sense to send them in their trucks with gear. If another call came in after the current they would already have all their truck/gear already and not have to possibly backtrack to the station losing valuable time.

    I agree with Long Time Reader on the ladder truck and maybe the downtown station gets a quick response unit (with more staffing) that is more nimble in the downtown area that can also access the parking garages.

  15. God forbid when someone picks on the Fire Department of the Police!
    They sure have you all educated that they shouldn’t be messed with.
    I do have to ask though. If it’s such a bad nasty dangerous job. Then why when there’s a opening they have 100s and 100s of Applications.

  16. Let me warn you all, I am also an “armchair quarterback” but it is forums such as the Boise Guardian which allow for exchange of ideas, and hopefully knowledge. I hope that those who do know the facts enlighten the rest of us with some data on why sending a Fire Engine with a 100 ft ladder are sent to traffic accidents or drug overdoses?

    What percentage of emergency calls performed by the Fire Dept. actually deal with fire? Are there other emergency vehicles available that might be faster and more effective in response compared to the big rigs? How much do one of those big fire engines cost and cost to maintain? Is there other cities that have found a more efficient way of running emergency response?

    Clearly the Fire Dept has evolved over the years into a whole different animal that deals with fire less than years past, but the tools haven’t changed with it. There are lives on the line, not to mention tax dollars.

  17. BlazingSaddle – You’re right – you are no expert. Using your logic, since doctors rely on nurses and techs to assist in pt care, then we don’t really need the doctors either.

    You do realize that ACEMS actually transports the patients to the hospital and provides all care from the time that they arrive on scene, right? So if you want them to “turn in their keys,” who would you like to take over? If your answer is fire departments, the patient might still receive a bill for services (see Phoenix FD and Philadelphia FD, among others,)and they are going to need a bigger budget for all the shiny new ambulances and new paramedics on the payroll. And, guess where those paramedics will be hired from (hint, it will be the same ones providing care right now through ACEMS).

    If your answer is a private service, then the patient still has to pay a bill for transport and the fire department will still go on calls to assist, but the proficiency of ALS care will most definitely decrease with the lower pay and higher turnover that comes with an AMR, Rural Metro, NPA etc.

    Oh and by the way, BlazingSaddle, Ada County Paramedics exist just fine without the fire department, and frequently cancels them when they are not needed. This is not to imply that the fire department is useless or they should “turn in their keys.” The area fire departments have a role and do a good job providing assistance.

    What I find most incredulous about this entire situation is the ignorance about taxpayer dollars being wasted. The property tax rate for ACP is something in the area of 10 dollars per 100K. The cities take a lot more to fund the expensive fire departments. True, you don’t get a bill from the fire department when your house goes up in flames, but then again, your house doesn’t get saved either.

    On the other hand, if you are in cardiac arrest, there is a real chance that you could be saved by ACEMS. For a tax of 20-40 bucks a year (for most people), I can live with that.

  18. Sick of it!!
    Apr 30, 2008, 7:45 pm

    I can’t believe that in this economy you would hire more tax paid personnel! At least the Paramedics only take $20.00 of my tax money each year. I’d probably hire more of them if we need to send less fire trucks to a call.

    I looked at my tax bill and Boise city’s website. I pay the fire department about 15 times more money each year. I realize that I’ll have to pay a bill if I use the Ambulance, but maybe once every 10 years. I’m not saying the firemen don’t do a good job, but give me a break! According to your salary survey most of these firefighters are making about twice what a teacher makes. Pretty good considering all you need is a high school diploma.

    Merge the ambulance folks into the fire department? What are we trying to do? Bankrupt the City is what is sounds like to me!

    I think Eric mentioned having the fire paramedics ride into the hospital with the patient. This would probably require ADDITIONAL personnel that take my tax money to do a job I’m already paying less for! What a stupid idea. What happens when the fire paramedic is in the ambulance and my house catches on fire? I guess I would get another station from farther away. Good thing I have insurance!

    Keep things separate. They do different jobs. When the foothills catch on fire and every fire truck in the valley is up there I want a qualified, experienced paramedic to respond to my call. I won’t get that from the fire department, but I will get that from an AMBULANCE service.

    I also heard that the fire department is now working 48 hours straight!!! Open up the city’s checkbook if they crash into someone in their 40th hour on shift. I guess that would also be my checkbook.

    Quit wasting my tax money!!!!!!

  19. Whine all you must to bring significance to your life… When you need help and dial the number they will come. Day, night, rain, snow, disasters, and even some of the scariest moments on earth. Yes it is their job, yes they get paid by your taxes, doesn’t mean you own them… For god sakes you expect service at dinner and you even tip the waitstaff… Fire, police, hospital, and medics don’t get tips.. Quit thinking you have the right to have it your way! You do whatever it is you do, safe, tucked behind a desk… Complaints when you don’t need them… Complaints when you do. These people have specific training and ability few could ever fathom. They have worked hard to get the opportunity to be micromanaged.

    Why do some think that individuals with the highest of training; who have gone through background checks, and feel the calling to work for less than most, need to be looked down on by a probable idiot – who worries about who came to help, and what they drove.

    I would love to see just one day where all 911 services went away… Just one day…

    I think a greater appreciation would be had for things most truly don’t understand!

  20. Luke, your the one “out of water” here! We already have a bunch of “shiny, new ambulances” that we already own. They are the ones you folks are using! And your self serving comment of “ALS will most definitely decrease with the lower pay and higher turnover of AMR, Rural Metro and NPA”
    is completely arrogant! (no wonder the BFD doesn’t like you people)

    I am sure that the existing ACEMS personnel will be asked to test for the new “firefighter/paramedic” positions. But, don’t worry, for those who don’t pass, there will always be an opening with one of those “low-life” transport companies.
    ( At least one of which is owned by a guy who has fogotten more than any of the county’s EMS people will ever know about emergency care. He was a paramedic when most of these people were getting their diapers changed by their mommies!)

  21. Hey cyclops,

    Lets not forget the ones who wont be picked up by BFD…Females, Minorities, and well, anyone who doesn’t tow the union line. Notice that nowhere in there is any mention of medical competence.

    In fact, some of the best medics at ACEMS are ones who couldn’t pass the FF physical, not because they are slobs or lazy, but because of age (you have to be 36 or less by most FD standards, regardless of health) and lets face it, most 20 year olds have trouble with it, never mind the females and the “para-saureses” who, like John Fog, have forgotten more about helping people that BFD will ever learn.

    People any agency should actively recruit, people ACEMS is lucky to have, people BFD is afraid to hire.

    But then again, being a medic is about the medicine and helping people, but being a fire medic is just about being on the fire department.

    SO lets figure it out, 12 million or so for 22K calls (approx) and a 40% cardiac arrest survival rate (compared to most Califronia FIREMEDIC departments that push like 5%), or 30 million for (approx) 10 k calls (many of which are multiple responses to the same incident) with very few (if any) structure saves…..

    So in this time of fiscal hardship locally and nationally , considering that BFD has a huge budget already that will ony grow if it takes over EMS, and that BFD will hire more young, inexperienced medics at the expense of seasoned quality medics, and considering the fire services history in general of discrimination against women (of which ACEMS is about 40%) and considering that ACEMS does an EXCELLENT job of quality EMS….

    Why is it that BFD supporters HATE ACEMS?

    Oh yes, because its in the interest of their union job security and their union pay check and their multi-million dollar Mc-Mansion style stations to do so. Especially in these times of fiscal hardship when the taxpayer will start looking for waste.

    Again…12 million for 22K calls, or 30 million for 10K calls (or less)…….


    We will let this one slip through, but please don’t respond to this comment. It is too much like the Daily Paper crowd baiting each other.

  22. Oh for goodness sake. Paramedics are ALS which is advanced life support. Firefighters are BLS which is basic life support. Firefighters respond because the thought is that they can get there quicker, stabilize if necessary and wait for the more highly trained paramedics. Firefighters take their trucks with them everywhere so that’s what they respond with and what they use to get groceries (which why they can’t do that on their 48 hours off is beyond me).

    The fire union has long wanted to be paramedics because that’s where their jobs are headed. Most of their calls (80%) are medical.

    Getting a fourth man on the trucks has long been another goal of the union just like binding arbitration which they recently got. Neither is good for the taxpayer so I assume the fourth man will be coming to a station near you soon.

    Sending a ladder truck seems bizarre but hey, they like to get out and about also. It’s just that now with the price of diesel sky high, even without taxes, it seems there would be a different way figured out. Perhaps a small rig, even a car, which would go out with 2 guys and leave the big rig at home with a driver to be called out only when needed on a fire.

    But that would imply someone is looking out for the taxpayer.

  23. There is no age limit to get hired with the BFD, Just to be clear.

  24. Truely sorry dave…well mostly.

    You are right, Let my zeal for truth , justice, and the american way get a hold of me. 🙂

  25. Joe Cleveland
    May 1, 2008, 1:10 am

    Well it looks like the war has started again, I quess no one read Brads comments. Sorry Brad I thought you totally put this whole article into perspective. I don’t care if you show up in a garbage truck to help me if you are the closest one to me. Sara when you need help make sure when you are talking to 911 that you ask for the vehicle that gets the best gas mileage to come help you. And believe it or not Sara and Nemo just made the argument for BFD to continue to do the great job that they do. Nemo stated that ACEMS has a 40% cardiac arrest survival rate, well we all know that you just don’t walk in the door and start pushing drugs, you have to get that heart primed first, good BLS skills, and since BFD is first on scene 90% of the time, it goes to figure that ACEMS is lucky BFD is there stabilizing their patients as Sara said. That is what you said isn’t it? So for every citizen of boise who is reading this whenever you call 911 no matter who you get, you are going to get the best possible care. What I find ABSURD is that the Fire Chief had to sit down and discuss a more resonable approach to doing business with the Guardian editor. Because of course the editor knows all about the fire dept. so he is an expert on what is resonable. What the editor should of done is found out the facts first about this incident, but unlike the daily paper that he always rips, I am finding alot of your articles seem to be written off of half-truths and heresay. Please get back to being a good source of info, not the Boise Enquirer.

    EDITOR NOTE–Joe, the issue is NOT this particular run. The issue is about use and delivery of emergency services. I would be happy to take a lump or two if the chief disagrees with the thrust of my remarks. We were on the same page and I think he has some good ideas and intentions…with time he will also be experienced in management.

  26. Thanks for the education.
    I lived across the street from a home for the aged, handicapped, etc. — all people who didn’t need a full-staff nursing home but couldn’t live completely independently.
    Because of the ages and other conditions, there were a lot of apparent heart attacks, some falls and other incidents that required medical response. So I wondered why the fire trucks always showed up (but firefighters often just kind of strolled in, not hurrying like they do when it’s something urgent). Now I know — they were just being ready to help when needed, with lifting, care or whatever.
    Makes good sense.
    And the fire station was much closer to there than the ambulance, but fire truck sometimes took longer getting there because of getting that big truck rolling, clearing lanes to make it around the corners, etc.
    Yep, a QRU at each station (not just some) could decrease both response time and fuel costs. Also would mean that when a fire such as in a home or large commercial building requires both fire equipment and medically trained people just in case, they’d both be there, perhaps even able to switch back and forth between jobs if necessary.

  27. I am just a simple Idaho native who doesn’t understand all this big city crap. Can someone please explain why unions are necessary in 2008? So let me get this straight, the fire fighters don’t fight fire, they assist paramedics that make half as much as they do. But they are represented by a union which collects dues and lobby’s to make sure they stay in the union business. Meanwhile somebody is producing these big red fire engines and they have wisely highered a lobbying group to make sure every city has 25 big red fire engines to answer all those fender benders, and bar fights.

    Back on the farm the rest of us pay are taxes. The Jungle is a very old book, Unions once saved the working man, now it is killing the working man.

  28. OK Guardian. But only because I respect your commitment to the community.
    Seething at the keyboard!

  29. Eberm, you made me chuckle. In Idaho the farm lobby is HUGE! Fire lobby ,not so huge. I know what you are saying. “Right to Work” has done our state so well.(Sarcasm) But, Thats a different post

  30. Joe,

    You have some very valid points,and Sara and others you are right,BLS is more important than ALS, so then whey are we paying more for paramedics on fire engines when what we need are more BLS first responders?

    Example, several cities found that their BLS/CPR/AED response rate went down (as in improved) when they did the unthinkable, placed AEDs and CPR training in the hands of every cop car. One study in one city found that they had multiple saves and their AED /BLS response time dropped by over 2 minutes!

    Now that is a significnt improvement. Now if Garbage trucks would do this (to use Joe’s analogy)I would be all for it. If fire would have roving QRUs filling holes left by engines on calls (or taking calls for engines) I would be for it, because it makes sense. I would even support the fire in increasing BLS staffing for this. Because it makes sense.

    Truthfully, We could outfit every singly cop car, fire marshalls vehicle, and other appropriate vehicles, stick them in the system so they respond to cardiac arrests (admittedly a small portin of calls) and both save lives, and meet response time standards, with out adding a single employee or new aparatus …..for the cost of a single “truck”.
    Throw in the $$ from the BFD paramedic program, or another engine, and you could outfit the garbage trucks too!

    While I am making a point, it is a statistical truth (based on extrapolation from studies) that this would have more effect on cardiac arrest survival in a single year than BFDs paramedic program will have in 10 years! For less cost.

    But this type of thining doesnt save union jobs

  31. Eberm:

    The reason they have all those “big red fire engines” is so they can get to your house within a matter of minutes when it catches on fire. Perhaps you are still asleep with your family and a neighbor called in the fire, or perhaps no one is home. Either way they often can contain the spread of the fire within your house, and save some of your most prized possession, even your life.

  32. The 40% survival rate touted by ACMES again and again was created by Troy Hagen’s magic marker and is pathetically over-inflated. Ada County doesn’t even collect or track the data needed to complete a truly objective Utstein template analysis. Leaving out a few vitally important details, like whether the patient ever walked out of the hospital or not, could give any system a 40% survival rate.
    In 2007 BFD responded to approximately 12,500 medical calls, about 71% of BFD’s runs. If you consider the number of apparatus responses, it was over 22,000.

  33. I think the funniest thing of all is that the call is a 3-wood from the fire station.

  34. Kenny Tarmack
    May 2, 2008, 3:33 pm

    So, wouldn’t it be reasonable for the closest emercency unit to go to the call, no matter how big or small their truck is?

    EDITOR NOTE–That’s what they do now. We are suggesting adding one firefighter per station and something like an Expedition or Suburban, leaving the big rig to respond to fires UNLESS there is a 2nd medical in the district. For fire alarms BOTH the big rig and the small “medical car” would respond. If it is a real fire they have an extra man and if it is not, the medical guys can leave immediately for other calls.

    Essentially it doubles the coverage and decreases fire engine responses by about 70%–hence saving wear and tear. The SUVs cost about $40,000 vs $400,000 for a big rig.

  35. This is all a repeat of the last time. You can not argue with a couple of things. The system as it is, works very very well. The cities with the highest save rates are what this tiered response system is modeled after. When I sat in my paramedic class there was a number of individuals who could not believe that there was people in my paramedic class that wanted to be paramedics. What I was told was that most every paramedic class from here to the west coast is full of people that want to be firefighters. Getting your paramedic puts you far a head of anyone else to be hired as a firefighter. I was one that just wanted to be a paramedic, nothing more. I truly don’t care who signs my checks, I just want to do medicine.

    I am not being negative towards any fire service but when they have a fire, their fire/medic is fighting fires. Ada Co. usually has to respond to perform Patients care if there are any Patients. None of the fires I have been on have the fire/medics done medicine, they have fought fire. Hence the name ‘fire/medic’, not medic/firefighter.

    When Ada Co. has a hiring test 10 people is a huge turn out. Fire deptartments get thousands of applicants. Not very many people want to put up with what paramedics have to deal with, espescially for lower pay. Wiping the diarrhea off of some strangers back side, helping them change into a fresh pair of pants after that, Cleaning up a homeless person so the hospital might treat them kinder, geting puked on, holding the hand of a mother that just gave birth to a still born infant, talking to someone that you know is going to die in the next few hours, telling someone that their mother, sister, brother, father, or cousin is dead and letting them cry on you. There are some other aspects that are unspeakable that for taste reasons I will leave out. No one should see, hear, smell or have to deal with some of the things that paramedics (and firefighters) have to deal with. No one I know is a paramedic for the money, you can’t do that job for pay, its not worth it. You have to want to do it.

    I know there are great fire/medic single provider services, but that is not how the system was set up here.

    The data that show who arrives on scene first is so screwed up, that it is ridiculous to base anyone’s budget or response times on it. Every call that goes to a DR’s office, surgery center, nursing home, ETC, where a fire truck is not initially dispatched to, gets a Boise (BFD) Meridian (MFD) Eagle (EFD) etc. dispatch number. Even though they have not even been dispatched to or turned a wheel for the call. But they still get credit for that run number. For a time Ada Co. (ambulances) could not confirm on air to dispatch that they were on location, because certain fire departments who shall remain unnamed would put them selves on scene (that instant) even though they were not on scene yet. I know we have some paramedics that do the same thing too. So the times that they cite, the numbers of incidents are so screwed up that they are useless. But it goes both ways, Ada county still shows a run if the Fire department cancels them prior to arrival on scene. Numbers as they are used are USELESS!

    Ada co. EMS recieved 3 million and change from property taxes. The other 9 million in change is REVENUE (making the 12mil budget total). Very very few public services make any revenue at all. I don’t know if the fire department makes any revenue or not. I don’t know. I also know that I paid five times in taxes for a library than what I paid for EMS taxes. EMS just built a new station in Meridian. The first new building in 30 years?? It is very very nice. The only other building that EMS owns is the station on Glenwood. The remainder of our locations are graciously given to us by fire departments, and hospitals. So they are clearly not spending a lot of money on housing.

    Unless Idaho law changes the Counties are responsible for Emergency medical services, not the cities.

    The ideal fix (I think) would be a public safety department, rural/metro system. FIRE, EMS and Paramedics under one umbrella. This alone would chop a lot of fat of off the top of all of the sevices. I.E. management. One public safety chief, (elected position) One fire chief not 6, one sheriff, (not three police chiefs), one EMS chief. This has repeatedly been shown to be the most cost effective use of services county wide. The Fire departments have several times during blue ribbon commitees been told that there consolidation would save money. Consolidating ALL public saftey agencies would save millions of dollars in overhead alone. Would any of the cities give up their slice of the pie to a county wide service? doubtful, but there is no debating this would be the most ecconomical solution.

    One last thought I do appreciate the fire dept. we paramedics could not do our job with out them most of the time.

    I would rather have most of the firefighters in the county helping me code a Pt. in a Dr’s office than the Dr. or nurses that works in a clinic and sees ear infections and colds the majority of the time.

    I also want them to know that there is nothing in my house save for my family that is worth any one breaking a back, leg, arm, getting burned or heaven forbid losing their life, my house is just full of stuff. No ones life is worth any thing in my house. I appreciate that they willingly take those risks, but it is just stuff. Maybe if I were richer I might feel different, but I don’t

    In closing the system works great, every time some one who has enough spare time to take a picture of something to gripe about, or complain about they take focus away from the services, and start silent wars between agencies, not particularly helpful. I do like the one observation that when you are having a heart attack, you are watching someone you love die, you have been shot, your house is on fire, your leg is pinned under a car you will not give a D@MN how anyone got to where you are to help you, or what they drove. I guarantee it!!

  36. Suzy,

    Good points, and I agree ALL emergency service should be under a metro style system, including law enforcement. We could save tax payers a LOT of money by using several large buildings and running fire/ems/police out of it, instead of having all the multiple fire stations, paramedic stations, and police departments within a few blocks of eachother.

    Now we just need a public official to begin this process, and administrators to quit protecting their jobs and do what is right for the tax payers.

  37. I just spent the last half-hour reading all these comments and i still feel the need to add my two cents. I have seen 911 systems in other parts of the US, and abroad. The 911 system in Ada County is very good. The paramedics are top-notch in training and performance, and the ERs and doctors do a good job on being involved, making sure the SYSTEM stays that way, and the area FDs are also integral do a great job assisting with medical calls.

    All citizens should sleep well tonight knowing that whatever emergency happens, the outcome will be the absolute best outcome possible, because the FFs and paramedics, and EDs are working together to solve your problem. Nothing needs to change in Ada County. It is impossible to really understand how great this system is unless you see it in action. Call the ambulance people or FD and schedule a ride-along!

  38. Long time reader 2nd time writer
    May 4, 2008, 10:02 am

    Well suzythecat that seemed to slow a lot of people down. Although I don’t agree with some of your opinions it is nice to have someone who puts it into perspective. Thank you. On an educational note, the reason for the number of Chiefs – 5 plus the Battalion Chiefs is that the fire department follows the NIMS standard set forth by the federal goverment and according to NIMS those positions are needed to efficiently run the organization. Again thank you for putting it into perspective for the people out there who have nothing but time to complain about something that someday they maybe very greatful to have.

  39. Wow, some excellant comments, even thouhg I dont agree with allof them, still good.

    One comment about paramedics and FDs sharing staions, besides the cultural issues it causes….

    I personally believe that IF you are not willing to deploy AED resonse capable units in a cost effective way (i.e. cop cars and roving BLS units) then seperating out the FDs and Ambulances in smaller stations increases the 4 min BLS response circles.

    Yes, this is MUCH more expensive than other plans, and Im not a fan of it, but the point is we can do much more to increase BLS response time that simply isnt being done because some parties have focused on upgrading to ALS levels, thinking it relieves them of the need for a good BLS base.

    BTW, I am NOT favoring an approach known as “system status”, simply because this has been shown to be (much) more expensive in wear and tear on veicles, increasing injuries (backs = $$$$), and simply it is a huge moral killer. (and you cant attract quality people to a system status system.)
    What I am saying is take Unitsd that are on the road all the time anyway, and use them. In other systms this has been effective.

    And second, improve the BLS base/foundation of respponse units.

    Honestly, not that the current tax burden would allow it, but Ada County (as an area, not as a goverment) could use about 10 -15 BLS/ILS transport units, then maybe consolidate the ALS units into double medic units…with an improvement in care and with out a decrease in response times to critical calls….but thats just my opinion for a dream.

  40. The six fire chiefs I was talking about was a Meridian fire chief, Kuna Fire chief, Boise Fire chief, Eagle’s fire chief, Star fire chief, Witney’s and or NACFR’s chief. Not the field or Bat. chiefs. I am sure that the field Battalion chiefs are needed. Oh and Boise police chief, Ada Co. sheriff, Meridian police chief, would be consolidated or only have one director of law enforcement over the county. I know its my little delusional theory

  41. Ricky Bobby
    May 5, 2008, 11:31 am

    Nemo –

    You seem to be very opinionated and like to point fingers. “some parties have focused on upgrading to ALS levels, thinking it relieves them of the need for a good BLS base.” If a person were to sit back and actually look at the system, they would see that although the fire department has added ALS people to areas where ALS response times are slow and high volume medical areas, they still run at least two BLS crew members on every apparatus. Thus, allowing both BLS and ALS care to occur long before an ambulance arrives on scene. A much different approach then that of ACEMS operating 1 person ALS cars.

    Also most of the fire stations are strategically placed to allow for a four minute response time the majority of the time. Oh and by the way all of those apparatus carry an AED with well trained BLS members. This sounds very close to the system in which you dream of except these crews have a place to eat, sleep and work when they are not out there caring for the citizens of this great valley.

    To add on your thought about the BLS units. Maybe ACEMS should turn all of the transporting units into those much needed BLS units and the fire departments should run the calls if it should happen to go ALS. I know that non of the agencies would relinquish any power for that to happen and it probably isn’t the best option but I thought it might fire poor Nemo up a little bit.


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