There are some insane rumors flying around the web since the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors/Fireboard approved putting a $75 parcel tax on the November ballot that I find to be stunning and flat out ignorant. I would like to provide a document that squashes a lot of these misstatements so that voters can make a well-informed decision.
I’d like to first go back to Gill Guererreo statements from Tuesday where he perfectly stated, “To hear ignorant statements that these are threats is horrible. These are ignorant statements that the public runs with. Those that lied about scare tactics, they are partially responsible for this recent death… we’ve never tried to scare, we try and educate.”
He is right, and immediately after the meeting on Tuesday, the rumors and lies from the anti-tax group began.
Like Mr. Guererro, I like to educate people as well which is why I want to provide the document The Relationship of First Response to EMS from the Contra Costa Health Services Emergency Medical Service Agency (EMS). This is full of nice information that disproves a lot of the false information flying around sites such as the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association, Halfway to Concord and many others.
I have nothing against ambulance companies, but what I love about the document which I hope people take from it is it states numerous times that ambulance services cannot duplicate fire first response times or activities. Essentially, this means that the county EMS was set up to be a partnership where firefighters and ambulance companies each have a specific role that ensures public safety. Neither is better than one another, they just have different roles.
For example, this talk about changing the service model to have fire engines withdraw from responding to medical calls is explained. From the document it states:
The Contra Costa EMS Agency does not control the funding, configuration or response capability of fire first‐responder services and does not have the resources to fill gaps that may result from cutbacks to fire services. Although 9‐1‐1 ambulance response times are NOT impacted by these changes, ambulance service cannot duplicate fire first response times or activities.
Later in the document it states:
Fire first‐responders provide emergency treatment on scene until care can be transferred to the ambulance crew, continue to assist in patient care when needed both on the scene and, in some cases, en route to the hospital. Importantly, fire first responders provide scene management, safety oversight, and rescue services (e.g., extricating patients from motor vehicle accidents). When patients require transport by helicopter (most often critical trauma patients), fire responders are required to manage the landing site. Fire personnel have all hazard capabilities not easily duplicated or replaced by other personnel.
The other claim is that these anti-tax folks are using single examples in response times to claim its happening a majority of the time. They claim ambulances arrive on scene either before or at the same time as fire responders. Well, depending on the location of an ambulance, that may be true sometimes, but according to the document, a majority of the time their statement is false.
Fire first responders typically arrive 2‐5 minutes before an ambulance, but, depending on the location of the call and the location of the responding units, that interval can be 10 minutes or more. While a few minutes difference in response times do not affect the outcome for most patients, in certain critical cases – cardiac arrest, breathing difficulty, profuse bleeding – minutes, or even seconds, can make a difference in saving a life or avoiding serious complications.
The 5 page document offers other details which include:
- The EMS System at Work and the Role of First Responders
- Potential Patient Care Impacts of Reductions in Fire Service Resources
- Disaster and Multi-Casualty Events (this is a great read)
- EMS Agency Role and Changes in Fire First Response
- Measure H Support for Fire First Responders and Fire Paramedic First Response
- Other Support for Fire First Response from Measure H
The Relationship of First Response to EMS
Photo was taken via Contra Costa County EMS Facebook Page