Broken Arrow Fire Runs Its Own Ambulance Service

Wednesday, October 11th 2006, 10:36 am
By: News On 6

The News on 6 reported Monday on the debate at Tulsa city hall over whether EMSA should continue providing ambulance service to the city.

Wednesday, we look at one Tulsa suburb where firefighters serve as paramedics and they can't imagine doing it any other way.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says in Broken Arrow, the ambulances are red because they're part of the Broken Arrow Fire Department.

What Tulsa is considering has been working in Broken Arrow since 1973. Shaun Christmas is both a firefighter and paramedic and he likes it that way. “We know immediately who is going, who needs to be going, and we work great as a team also because we know each other and work together on a daily basis.”

At Broken Arrow's Central Fire Station, there are three paramedics with advanced training on duty at all times. There's also a full complement of firefighters - all with at least the more basic EMT training. Depending on the call, they might all go - and arrive at the same time. Broken Arrow Fire Major Phil Reid: "The benefits of having stations spread throughout town and having your apparatus in the station is that our response time to calls runs 4 to 5 minutes."

Major Phil Reid believes having one workforce for the two services naturally saves money. That's one consideration - and while the simplest comparison doesn't tell the whole story, Broken Arrow's combined service charges $350 per ambulance run while EMSA charges $485 per run in Tulsa.

The other consideration is quality of care - and in Broken Arrow, Major Reid says he believes his paramedics provide the best care available - even while sharing their time and skills with the fire department. “The guys live together, train together so what happens is when you get to a scene, and it’s a seamless operation.”