Chandler deploys new fleet of ambulances - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler deploys new fleet of ambulances

January 20th, 2022 development
Chandler deploys new fleet of ambulances

By Ken Sain, Staff Writer

There are a lot of bells and whistles that are part of Chandler’s new ambulance fleet, but the most important attribute for the city is that there are more of them.

“Because we’ve had so many struggles with ambulances, we knew that we’re growing and that we needed to grow our number of ambulances,” said Keith Hargis, the city’s assistant fire chief. “We also knew that backup ambulances are important.”

Maricopa Ambulance replaces American Medical Response as the city’s private partner in providing ambulance service. It began serving the city on Friday.

Under the previous contract, the city had five full-time ambulances with a surge to six during peak times. One ambulance was left in reserve, so it could replace another that needed maintenance.

The new contract increases the total number of ambulances from seven to 10. Maricopa Ambulance will have six full-time ambulances and that number increases to seven during peak hours.

“The equipment that’s supplied on the ambulances is a huge win for us,” Hargis said. “It’s a win for the community, really. Having more ambulances on the road that can respond to medical calls and patients that are in need is critical for us. Not only to absorb the volume, but to increase the response time.”

But perhaps the biggest improvement from the city’s standpoint is there will be three reserve ambulances. Hargis said under the old contract, the city only had one ambulance in reserve and that sometimes caused a strain.

Hargis said if they needed additional reserve ambulances, they had to pull from a shared supply. He said that was a problem because those reserve ambulances often rely on different communication systems, making them difficult to contact in the field.

Hargis said all 10 ambulances will be using the same system that is compatible with Chandler Fire.

The contract is for four years with options to renew for up to three additional years. Maricopa Ambulance has been around about five years and has grown quickly. In addition to Chandler, it currently is the ambulance provider to Scottsdale, Surprise, Glendale and Goodyear.

“We really find that we have a niche with the fire departments in helping them bring to life the model of EMS service that they want that’s a public-private partnership,” said Alan Smith, who is Maricopa Ambulance’s west region president.

The company expects to transport between 80,000 to 100,000 patients this year.

The ambulance service does not cost the city anything. Maricopa Ambulance will reimburse the city for the cost of accessing the 9-1-1 system; it will also cover the costs of the city’s EMS personnel who use the ambulance; and it will pay rent to be stationed at the city’s fire stations.

Maricopa Ambulance will pay the city about $2.5 million annually to provide service to Chandler. Rates will not change for patients because ambulance prices are regulated by the state.

Amanda Shell Jennings, the director of marketing for Maricopa Ambulance, said the company is proud it was able to custom-build 10 new ambulances and deliver them despite the current supply shortages being experienced around the world.

And they each come with those bells and whistles.

First is a Lucas 3 automated chest compression device that can give patients CPR, freeing up a paramedic if needed.

“We had our arms, and our bodies, we did it the old-fashioned way,” Hargis said of how ambulances operated before adding the Lucas 3. “We’re good at it, but we’re human like everyone else and we fatigue and get tired.”

Another first is each ambulance is equipped with ultra-violent lights to help kill any virus. Hargis said they relied on foggers before this new fleet.

Each ambulance will also come equipped with gear for most hazardous situations.

“If this unit happens to be first on the scene of a heart attack, we have all capability to address that,” Hargis said. “If it’s a car accident, we can initiate command. If it’s a house fire, we can start the process of actually doing something to mitigate that hazard.”