Palo Alto advised to change its ambulance service | January 27, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 27, 2012

Palo Alto advised to change its ambulance service

Consultant study recommends scrapping non-urgent transports, adding a full-time ambulance

by Gennady Sheyner

Palo Alto's emergency medical services are already among the best in the region, but the city's program could benefit from a new leadership position, a second full-time ambulance service and elimination of the city's non-urgent "basic life service," according to a consultant study that was presented to the City Council Monday (Jan. 23).

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Posted by Martin, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 24, 2012 at 9:50 am

I am hoping that the "BLS service" proposed for elimination, is the endless fire truck and ambulance runs to PAMF. On a daily basis, the fire department is running to PAMF for transport of patients to Stanford.

This is ridiculous, and an enormous waste of resources and time.

Posted by Mark, a resident of another community
on Jan 24, 2012 at 10:30 am

The Fire Department going to PAMF would not be an issue if PAMF could rely on the private ambulance companies it contracts. When the private ambulance company doesn't have enough ambulance to provide to PAMF, PAMF calls 9-1-1.

(My point is that if you're not happy with the setup, this is actually an issue to raise with PAMF rather than the Fire Department.)

Posted by Anne, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 24, 2012 at 10:48 am

@Martin : Glad to know that saving my father's (very productive) life was ridiculous. Having a massive heart attack, and need to be at Stanford, of course my mother should have transported him in the family car without any lifesaving equipment. DOA is much more cost effective.

Obviously there are situations where an ambulance is appropriate, and the decision is up to the medical professionals.

Posted by Martin, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 24, 2012 at 12:09 pm

So Anne, let's post an ambulance at PAMF full time, instead of sending fire trunks and unneeded gear.

Another option, is to have the fire department as a "backup", rather than "first call".

Posted by What are you talking about, a resident of University South
on Jan 24, 2012 at 12:42 pm

The Fire Department isn't first call! PAMF actually hires a non-City ambulance department only goes when non-City company aren't able to deliver.

Posted by Martin, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm

If the preferred provider is not available on a daily basis, then PAMF needs to change providers.

Posted by Insider, a resident of another community
on Jan 24, 2012 at 7:50 pm

Martin, PAMF has been known to ship out multiple patients. On busy days, they can have as many and have had as many as 5-7 patients shipped out in a matter of less than 2 hours. It is unreasonable to expect a private service to have units crawling all over Palo Alto to cover this. Now, if PAMF actually contracted and paid for standby coverage, it would be different. This is not a private ambulance, county EMS, or PAFD issue, this is PAMF and their patients.

Posted by Also..., a resident of University South
on Jan 24, 2012 at 8:42 pm

I think if PAMF did a better job educating patients on when to use urgent care vs go to the Emergency room, it would divert a lot of those who are quite ill (i.e. chest pain, shortness of breath, etc) away from PAMF and reduce the need for emergency transfers substantially.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 25, 2012 at 7:45 pm

In good humor, here are example signs PAMF could post:

- No Dying!
- No shirt, no service.
- If your heart stops, keep driving.
- Just like Blue Cross, we prefer healthy customers ...

On a more serious note, though, how could the message be effectively be delivered to the community, so PAMF is known as clinic, and not an emergency room?

Posted by Also..., a resident of University South
on Jan 26, 2012 at 1:01 am

I have been a PAMF patient for 4+ years. Not once do I recall ever receiving a mailing addressing the difference between Urgent Care and the Emergency Department. On the PAMF homepage you have to click "medical services" then "urgent care" then "what is urgent care" to figure out "What is the difference between an urgent health care need and an emergency?"

But some of the information is contradictory. For example, it says,
"Some examples of conditions that can be treated at urgent care include...Breathing difficulties"

But then the page also says "Common situations needing emergency room care...difficulty breathing".

And the difference between the two for a layperson reading this is????

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