Tulsa Fire Department Wants To Be An Alternative To EMSA

Tuesday, August 16th 2011, 6:28 pm
By: News On 6

Emory Bryan, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- The Tulsa Fire Department might start delivering patients to the hospital. But could the fire department be an alternative to EMSA? The fire department says yes -- and EMSA says no.

This is not in response to any problem with EMSA. It's part of a normal review the city has every five years.

EMSA is the provider of ambulance service in Tulsa, many surrounding towns and in Oklahoma City. It's a huge system that provides nationally recognized service at a cost, which according to EMSA, can't be beat.

It's an uphill argument for the Fire Department to suggest getting into transporting patients, but that's what they're doing.

The fire department argues that as first responders, it makes sense for their paramedics to continue that care all the way to the hospital.

Read the facts from the Tulsa Fire Department

"The squads that we have would be converted to a transport vehicle and instead of just being able to first respond, they would be able to respond and transport," said Michael Baker, Tulsa Fire EMS Director.

The Tulsa Fire proposal isn't public yet, so the details aren't clear. But it would start with the fire department having five ambulances to supplement EMSA.

EMSA's full staff of paramedics would remain on the job. But the TFD would likely pursue the full responsibility for the service in 2014.

The fire department has been increasing its staff of paramedics over the last few years. But EMSA argues that any kind of a merger -- or outright takeover -- would cost more and possibly impact care.

EMSA's President Steve Williamson said in a statement:

"Tulsa already has the best deal it can get in regards to administrative and overhead costs. There just isn't a better system out there."

Read the response from EMSA.

The fire department argues by starting small, their ambulances would only help support EMSA -- not replace it.

If we're working a fire or technical rescue, we pull an EMSA unit out of the EMS system to help support our operations, and our units could support that as well."