D.C. Council blasts ambulance scheduling plan

WASHINGTON – The D.C. Council rejected the fire department’s plan to rearrange its ambulance schedules twice in the same day.

First the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee released a report blasting the plan. Then the committee voted against the plan in a Friday afternoon hearing.

Councilwoman Anita Bonds (D-At-large) and Councilman Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and committee Chairman Tommy Wells (D-Ward 5) voted not to recommend the resolution. Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) abstained from voting.

The committee’s action sends the Ambulance Redeployment Resolution of 2013 to the full council for a vote July 10 with a recommendation not to approve.

“After a number of high-profile incidents involving ambulance availability, the District’s confidence in the emergency medical services capacity of the department has been severely undermined. I do not take lightly the decision to disapprove of the redeployment plan. But, I do not believe that the department is equipped with adequate information or resources to execute the proposed plan,” says Wells.

The plan would increase the city’s ambulance fleet from 39 to 45 vehicles during its peak hours between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. each day. Between the hours of 1 a.m. and 7 a.m., 25 ambulances will be on call. Those won’t be staffed with “medic units” during that period. However, the department says there will be firefighters trained as emergency medical technicians and emergency medical services supervisors on duty.

“An analysis of the ambulance staffing currently in place by (Fire and Emergency Medical Services) indicates a surplus of ambulances during the night shift and that balance scheduling does not match the rise and fall of calls throughout the day,” says Deputy Mayor Paul Quander, who’s in charge of public safety for the District.

The committee says it’s not against the peak staffing plan being implemented in the future, but it doesn’t work in its current form.

“The Committee opposes moving forward with a plan that has been formed without critical information about the department’s current capacity for service, and the District’s current need for emergency medical services,” the report says.

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