After two years of planning, three South Pasadena firefighters now are doubling as paramedics, marking the first time the city has been able to respond to medical emergency calls with its own ambulance.
Five men were chosen by the department to take a six-month course at Harbor UCLA Medical Center near Torrance, and the three who have completed their training began their dual firefighting and paramedic duties last week, Chief Gene Murry said. The two others are expected to complete the course in March.
Meanwhile, the city has hired three independent paramedics who are working with the firefighters.
Murry said that since the paramedic program began, the number of emergency medical calls coming through the city's 911 dispatch number has increased from three a day to about five. "We've been very busy and averaged more calls than expected," he said.
The city paid $86,000 for its ambulance and charges $122 for paramedic service with basic life support, Murry said. Advanced life-support assistance costs $252.