Champaign council gives initial OK to integration of fire, ambulance units

Champaign council gives initial OK to integration of fire, ambulance units

CHAMPAIGN — City council members gave initial approval to further integrating the fire department and local ambulance services Tuesday after fire Chief Gary Ludwig proposed changes to the city's 1988 ambulance ordinance, last updated in 2002.

Ludwig, who claimed his department arrived at 911 call scenes a few minutes before ambulances more than 97 percent of the time in 2017, said he envisions having a clearly established chain of command for 911-call response.

"We sometimes pump more oxygen than we do water," Ludwig said, noting how medical calls have become a substantial firefighter task.

He said he wants the fire department to have "overall scene command," according to a city report, with ambulance personnel responding to an "incident commander" picked from the fire department. But at the scene of a call, this chain of command would put ambulance personnel in charge of all patient-care planning and decisions, Ludwig said.

Two private companies, Arrow Ambulance and Pro Ambulance, switch off monthly to provide services in Champaign. The fire department, a public entity, is also trained in emergency-response services.

In addition to integration, Ludwig said he wants to update the 1988 ordinance to reflect advances in emergency-medical-services training, technology, methodology and data analysis. Overall, his proposed changes affect areas including chain of command, training and city fees.

"Instead of operating in separate silos where we basically hand the patient from one agency to the other ... (integration) can provide better patient care," Ludwig said.

Since the last change to annual ambulance license fees was in 2002, Ludwig said, it's time for a new price. He researched fees in nearby areas and crunched department numbers to come up with a proposal of $15,000 — a major increase from the current $125.

Champaign currently pays about $30,840 per year "to provide support and first-response services ... including medical supplies and training" to ambulance companies, according to the report. That figure excludes costs for labor and METCAD 911 dispatching. The $15,000 price comes from splitting up the total expense for each company, Ludwig indicated.

Another proposed change is to have fire and ambulance personnel do monthly medical training together. This would prepare ambulance personnel for working at fire scenes and helping injured firefighters, according to the report. Additional training for ambulance management personnel is also proposed, focusing on incident command, awareness and defensive driving — parts of the National Incident Management System.

Ludwig is also asking the ambulance companies to report their response-time data every month instead of about every two months like they do now. The current ordinance doesn't require any ambulance data reporting.

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yeahokay wrote on February 21, 2018 at 10:02 am

CFD provides training and medical supplies to the EMS companies? Maybe in his dreams, those ambulances restock fire units on scene of every call and pretty much any time the firefighters ask for something. 

And he wants his guys in control on a medical scene? The guys who tell anybody who listens they'd rather do just about anything other than deal with medical calls. They've even been making the ambulance park outside at station 6. Increasing the cost might not be out of line, but to say it's to compensate for training and supplies is outrageous, especially since the EMS system provides CFD with countless training free of charge. What a joke. 

concernedcitzen wrote on February 21, 2018 at 12:02 pm

Dear News gazette...if you EVER wanted to do an investigative report, now is the time. This Fire Chief is so WRONG. NONE of this information is true. This fire chief needs FIRED and held accountable...!!! OMG..?!?!?!