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VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS | WEST COUNTY / VENTURA

Council Approves Paramedics Contract

July 29, 1998|PAMELA J. JOHNSON

The City Council has approved a contract to allow the city's Fire Department paramedics to be the first to respond to medical emergencies on a permanent basis.

The Fire Department had been providing that service under a month-to-month contract with American Medical Response Inc., which provides ambulance service in and around the city.

But starting Saturday, the Ventura Fire Department will be the permanent provider of such first-response medical care.

Under the contract approved Monday by city leaders, the city's paramedics must take no longer than eight minutes to arrive at a scene after a 911 call is placed. The previous month-to-month contract allowed for a 10-minute arrival time.

"Citizens of this town will receive very good advanced life-support service on 911 calls," Deputy City Manager Steve Chase said Tuesday. "It's more efficient for us to be first responders. Our paramedics will be on the scene within eight minutes 90% of the time."

About a year ago, the city Fire Department was forced to dismantle its ambulance service. A state law gave counties the authority to decide which agency should provide first-response emergency services.

The Ventura County Board of Supervisors chose American Medical Response.

For the past year, the Fire Department has worked under monthly contracts that allowed paramedic-trained firefighters arriving first on the scene to start advanced life-support until AMR's ambulances arrived.

On Monday night, the council approved a contract between the city and the ambulance company that would expire only if either agency sought termination and gave a 90-day notice.

The ambulance company will pay the city $150,000 yearly to provide the service. It will cost the city $64,000 a year to run the program, Chase said.

The contract calls for an AMR ambulance to arrive at a scene within two minutes of Fire Department paramedics.

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