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Differing views on ambulance response times

Reported by: Vicki Gonzalez
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Updated: 5/01 10:44 am

LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- When it comes to emergency response, there are two polarizing viewpoints on what's best for the city of Las Vegas.

Since Las Vegas Fire & Rescue eliminated the dual-response model, American Medial Response has been limited to just transporting patients to hospitals, and the company isn't happy. Both entities have a bottom line that comes down to dollars.

AMR has made bold accusations which Las Vegas Fire & Rescue has vehemently denied. Both sides have been vocal in arguing that their own approach is in the best interests of the city.

Numbers are being thrown back-and-forth in the debate; Las Vegas Fire Chief William McDonald said earlier this week that an estimated 55,000 patients are transported to hospitals a year.

AMR accuses Las Vegas City and Fire of relying on a quota system -- responding to 70 calls a day-- before they start dispatching his private ambulance company. On Monday, American Medical Response General Manager Scott White said there is a fundamental problem with that approach. 

"We were told on February 28, which was a Friday afternoon, that starting Monday, March 3, they were going to call us when they need us," White said.

"They turn us back on if you will," White said. "The fire department is doing virtually no transports during the evening hours-- AMR is picking up most of those."

McDonald says the city receives 280 calls per day and responds to all of them.

"While AMR calls it a quota system, what it is, is just making sure our people are ready," McDonald said.

White says AMR has been left hanging since March 3. "We have seen a 400 percent increase in delays," White said. “We have issues with unconscious patients. We have a stroke victim in his mid-50s who had a history of strokes, where we were not sent the call for over 20 minutes."

The Las Vegas Fire Chief says those numbers are misleading.

"Someone in need is waiting for 20 minutes? No. No. We respond as quickly as we always have," McDonald said.

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