For as long as anyone can remember, ambulances in the District were staffed two shifts a day, evenly split into 12-hour blocks. But new data suggest that just as with train schedules, there are peak and off-peak hours for sickness and trauma.
D.C. Fire Chief Kenneth B. Ellerbe is proposing adjusting the emergency service timetable, which he says will give people faster and better care when they need it most — between 7 a.m. and 1 a.m.
But the plan involves a controversial element: The chief would pull all 14 advanced life-support paramedic vehicles from the street between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m., saying that the 25 basic life-support ambulances and firefighter-trained paramedics riding on engines can fill the gap.
“We’re trying to redeploy our resources to better serve the city,” Ellerbe said at a news conference Tuesday.
The District has 25 ambulances and 14 advanced life-support paramedic units, staffed by highly trained personnel who can administer drugs, do tracheotomies and utilize electrocardiograms to diagnose heart attacks. Under the proposal, the overnight hours would be staffed by those on the 25 ambulances. Firefighters who are trained as paramedics and seven supervisors can provide advanced care, either from a firetruck or ambulance.