Dialogue

Scripps Ranch Does Not Have an Ambulance!

Yes, it's true--we are fortunate to have a big beautiful new fire station, but we have no ambulance. The ambulance we had at our old "trailer fire station" since 1996 and the paramedic staff have been moved to a Mira Mesa station.

Mira Mesa now has two ambulances. Rancho Penasquitos, Sorrento Valley, Rancho Bernardo, and Poway serve as fire and medical back up to Scripps Ranch. Each of those communities has its own ambulances.

Scripps Ranch is a "hard to service area" due to the geographical layout of the streets. Therefore, it is imperative that immediate medical and life saving services be available to Scripps Ranch residents. Knowing that we don't have an ambulance creates a feeling of uneasiness and vulnerability.

What if your medical emergency is life threatening? What if one of our own firefighters is injured while fighting a fire in our area? Why don't we have our own ambulance in Scripps Ranch? It doesn't make sense to me, does it to you?

A recent case in point: a young girl fell off her bicycle during this year's 4th of July parade. Our engine company-- which includes a captain, engineer, firefighter, and a paramedic--responded immediately and were on the scene within minutes.

They stabilized the girl, but then had to wait for an ambulance from Mira Mesa. This is not acceptable! The girl was transported to Scripps La Jolla Hospital, suffering from a concussion and a fractured wrist.

Whether it is a child who is hurt, someone experiencing a heart attack, or a horrific traffic accident, I am outraged that our city services are not available in our own community. No one should have to wait for an ambulance! Concerned citizens, contact our councilmember. We need to remedy this situation now.

Victoria Mazelli

Fire Department Response

Thank you for the opportunity to explain to your readers our recent changes at Station 37 in Scripps Ranch. On July 1, San Diego Medical Services Enterprise moved a paramedic ambulance from Fire Station 37 to Fire Station 44 in Mira Mesa. This move was done solely in the interests of patient care and providing the best possible response times to all San Diego residents.

In determining locations for ambulances that optimize response times, we utilize historical call data, traffic patterns, and computer modeling. Station 37 is on the northeast edge of the city line bordering Poway. Station 44, just west of the I-15, provides better access to the wider area of Scripps Ranch and freeway incidents.

It's also important to note that while some communities in San Diego do have an ambulance posted at a fire station, all communities receive paramedic ambulance service. The city's EMS system relies not only on ambulances posted at fire stations, but also other "float" ambulances that move around the city based on real-time impacts to the system.

Finally, the city's overall EMS system was redesigned in 1997. It is based on having a paramedic fire engine respond to life threatening incidents in eight minutes or less, 90% of the time, followed by a paramedic ambulance in 12 minutes or less, 90% of the time.

The incident cited in the previous letter where a young girl fell off her bike during the 4th of July parade is an example of the system working. A paramedic fire engine responded first and began providing care to the girl. The paramedic ambulance followed shortly after and transported the girl to the hospital.

Our mission statement says, "In partnership with the community, we shall provide innovative and quality medical care." We will continue to strive to provide equal and high-end medical care to every community. San Diego Medical Services Enterprise is always available to speak with community groups and answer any questions about the EMS system. Feel free to contact our Public Information Office at 619-533-3491.

On behalf of the nearly 1,500 firefighters, paramedics, lifeguards, EMTs, dispatchers, mechanics, and administrative staff that support the EMS system, we appreciate the opportunity to serve the city of San Diego.

Assistant Chief August F. Ghio
President, San Diego Medical Services Enterprise