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LAFD might replace private rescue crews for Dodgers games

According to a letter of agreement, off-duty ambulance units would be assigned to games, with overtime paid by the Dodgers. But there is confusion over the deal.

March 18, 2013|By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times
  • “There’s no cost to us, and it’s in our mission,” said L.A.Fire Chief Brian Cummings, shown last year. The plan still has to be reviewed, but makes sense, he said.
“There’s no cost to us, and it’s in our mission,”… (Robert Gauthier, Los Angeles…)

In the midst of efforts to improve 911 response times, the Los Angeles Fire Department is negotiating a contract to replace a private firm and provide ambulances and medical rescue crews for Dodgers games.

According to a letter of agreement between the department and the firefighters union, three off-duty ambulance units would be assigned to home games at Chavez Ravine, with firefighter overtime paid by the Dodgers.

"There's no cost to us, and it's in our mission," said Fire Chief Brian Cummings. The plan still has to be reviewed, but makes sense, he said.

With the April 1 season opener approaching, there appeared to be confusion over where the proposal stands.

Dodgers officials said they are scheduled to meet with Fire Department managers Tuesday to finalize the plan. "L.A. Fire will be supporting all baseball [games] with paramedic and EMT services," Dodgers spokesman Steve Brenner said.

But a Fire Department spokesman said no timeline had been set to complete the agreement. The head of the City Council's Public Safety Committee said he learned of the plan Monday when a reporter inquired about it.

"I haven't heard or seen anything of it," said Councilman Mitchell Englander. "If it's being done at all, it's being done in the dark."

For more than a decade the Dodgers have contracted with a private ambulance service, American Medical Response, to work the team's home games.

Last week, Fire Commission President Genethia Hudley-Hayes said entering into a contract with the Dodgers could require special approvals or even a change to the City Charter.

"It is something that was just brought to the Los Angeles Fire Department, and it's so new and early that's it's difficult to talk about it now," she said.

L.A.'s charter prohibits the city from engaging "in any purely commercial or industrial enterprise." Hudley-Hayes and Englander both said they want to know if an agreement with the Dodgers would violate that restriction. Officials in the city attorney's office said the medical services contract doesn't appear to be at odds with the charter because the department's mission is to provide public safety. Currently, the Dodgers contract with the Los Angeles Police Department to staff each game with 50 to 80 off-duty police officers.

Special Assistant City Atty. Pete Echeverria said he was surprised the Dodgers expect to be finalizing a deal.

"We have not yet seen or been asked to draft an agreement," he said.

kate.linthicum@latimes.com

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