American Medical Response (AMR) is closing the Turlock Deployment Center located on Lander Avenue next to Sew Creative Upholstery (AKA “The U-Haul Place”) and eliminating two Basic Life Support (BLS) ambulances that are currently stationed in Turlock.
AMR representative in Sacramento, Jason Sorrick, says that the Turlock community will not see any negative impacts in emergency services due to the late April closure of the ambulance center in Turlock or from the elimination of the two BLS ambulances that he says are used for transporting patients.
Sorrick states that AMR is using a strategy of deploying ambulances by posting them where they are most likely to be needed based on historical call data and other statistics. Sorrick went on to say that the ambulances and four medics being eliminated from the Turlock area are not used for emergency calls and would not impact response times at all.
Lee Almeida, who works as an emergency medical technician for AMR in Turlock, disagrees with AMR’s claim that there will be no emergency service impacts to the Turlock community.
Almeida claims that by eliminating the two BLS ambulances used for transporting patients in non life-threatening situations, that the four Advanced Life Support (ALS, emergency) ambulances left in Turlock during the day will have to be used for transporting which will take away from available ALS ambulances for emergency 9-1-1 calls.
Along with the scenario of direct emergency service impacts, Almeida contends that eliminating the Turlock AMR deployment center could affect services and cost of services because of inefficiencies such as having to travel to the new AMR deployment center in Salida for supplies, change of uniforms or cleaning of ambulances if contaminated, and such.
AMR’s Sorrick claims that the two BLS ambulances and four staff members mostly used the Turlock deployment center to just sit around in and that there isn’t enough BLS ambulance transport calls to justify keeping the base or staff in Turlock.
Sorrick believes the Stanislaus County System Re-Deployment 2010 plan will be more efficient and addresses improving the services AMR are contracted for by Stanislaus County.
AMR must meet response time compliance demanded by Stanislaus County and if AMR doesn’t, AMR is fined by Mountain Valley Emergency Medical Services Agency. Mountain Valley’s mission is “to ensure the appropriate provision of quality pre-hospital care services to the public in a cost effective manner as an integrated part of the overall health care system.”
Sorrick explains that AMR would not enact a new deployment plan that would risk the company’s response time non-compliance and fines.
Minutes from a September 11, 2008 Stanislaus County Emergency Medical Services Committee show that AMR was to be fined $170,950 for non-compliance dating back to November 2006.
Turlock’s Stanislaus County Supervisor for District 2, Vito Chiesa, said “I will be watching closely and I have met with Stanislaus County staff and Mountain-Valley demanding updates of any response time changes if they occur.”
As AMR adjusts the organization’s plan to service Stanislaus County better, it appears that Turlock is being compromised for the betterment of the region and more specifically the Salida area where the Turlock BLS ambulances will be stationed at the AMR Deployment Center.
So will the Turlock community’s emergency services be impacted or not, and can Turlock do anything about it?
It just happens that Turlock City Manager Roy Wasden sits as a representative on the EMS Board so TurlockCityNews.com asked for his analysis and statement on the issue of whether or not Turlock’s emergency services would be affected.
“I am not able to speak for AMR, I suggest you make contact with them if you have questions regarding their operational model and service delivery,” said Turlock City Manager Wasden. “It would not be appropriate for me to speculate on their service delivery model.”
Turlock Vice Mayor Kurt Spycher shares Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa’s concern about the situation and the Turlock community’s safety. Spycher is not just taking anyone’s word that Turlock is not going to be affected by AMR closing the Turlock deployment center or eliminating two Turlock BLS ambulances. Spycher is trying to understand the situation to make sure Turlock continues receiving quality emergency services.
“I have met with concerned interested parties recently and have scheduled another meeting next week between those interested parties, the Turlock City Manager, Turlock City Attorney, Turlock Fire Services, and I to see how we can ensure that our Turlock community continues receiving the quality emergency services that we expect,” said Vice Mayor Spycher.
The issue is quite complex to the average person while both the company and employees say they know the business, yet have totally different statements on whether Turlock emergency services will be impacted.
While the ambulance business and this issue is complex, some numbers are hard to understand.
AMR states an average of only 2 BLS transports take place in Turlock although if a Modesto posted ambulance has to come to Turlock for backup that call will count in Modesto’s stats and not Turlock’s. Turlock medics claim that there could be 6 or more transports a day in Turlock (some taking up to 6 hours if they have to transport to Stanford for example).
This data recording also makes the total number of calls for service in the Turlock area hard to see in reports.
Are the views presented by the company and medics corporate greed vs. union tactics?
It is unclear and almost a “wait and see” situation as to whether or not the Turlock community’s emergency services will be negatively impacted by AMR’s cuts.
What is clear is that Turlock used to have its own community ambulance company, Turlock Ambulance, which was bought out by AMR. Now Turlock’s ambulance services are either subsidizing the Modesto area or being subsidized by the Modesto area based company.
The facts are AMR is eliminating Turlock’s ambulance deployment center, 2 BLS ambulances, and 4 full-time staff members while deciding not to fill an additional 2 vacant full-time positions.
According to Mountain Valley’s February 25, 2010 response time report to the Stanislaus County Emergency Medical Services Committee, AMR’s Turlock area had a 12 month Suburban 90%ile compliance of 12:44. Actual compliance is at 77.8% (the lowest compliance percentage reported of the Stanislaus County areas). This is based upon 162 calls. AMR was out of compliance in November.
This is another AMR staff reduction issue Monterey County is not happy about while AMR is defending their deployment strategy and efficiency: