Bryce Keller My Turn: Dispelling rumors about the Truckee Fire Protection District
May 11, 2010
A recent Sierra Sun article brought up questions about the decision by the Truckee Fire Protection District to provide on-site paramedic ambulance service to Olympic Valley. I would like to take this opportunity to dispel the rumors and provide as much factual information about the situation as this space allows.
Truckee Fire has been providing paramedic ambulance service to Olympic Valley and other communities in the greater Truckee area, a service that had been previously provided by Tahoe Forest Hospital. Sierra Sacramento Valley Emergency Medical Services Agency (SSV), under delegated authority from their respective counties, establishes operating areas and designates ambulance providers. Historically, Olympic Valley was included in the designated operating area of Truckee Fire, meaning that all calls for ambulance service to Olympic Valley were dispatched to Truckee Fire. It is important to note that in the case of a life-threatening event, Squaw Valley Fire Department, along with the closest paramedic ambulance, is always dispatched simultaneously.
Truckee Fire, as always, is committed to providing excellent timely service to all. To that end, due to the ever-increasing calls for service in Olympic Valley, Truckee Fire decided to expand our peak period pilot program to a more permanent ambulance presence. We rented a condominium for a six-month trial period to provide our on-duty paramedics stationed there with a place to rest and have logistical support during their shifts. Those paramedics are moved if they are needed to cover other Truckee Fire service areas when there are multiple incidents.
Our reasons for establishing this more permanent presence in Olympic Valley are simple: Truckee Fire has been providing paramedic ambulance service to Olympic Valley for many years, and we believe very strongly that it is our responsibility and obligation to continue to provide that same level of paramedic patient transport service and quality medical care. The formal boundary of our fire protection district that serves portions of Nevada and Placer counties and the town of Truckee is geographically smaller than our paramedic ambulance service area as designated by SSV.
Another very important item to note: Ambulance transports are a fee-based service. As such, no tax money is used to fund or subsidize ambulance services outside of our fire district boundaries. Furthermore, the additional money raised through our ambulance service program is used to improve and maintain medical services throughout Truckee Fire Protection District service areas. We believe providing paramedic ambulance service to Olympic Valley is fiscally responsible for the Truckee Fire Protection District. Truckee Fire has an obligation and remains committed to providing the same level or greater paramedic ambulance service to Olympic Valley and other communities in the greater Truckee area as we move into the future.
I recognize that in the space allowed for this column, I could not address all the questions raised concerning ambulance service for Olympic Valley. I welcome the dialogue and the district looks forward to addressing other related questions to be released at a later date.
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Bryce E. Keller is chief of the Truckee Fire Protection District.