Pierce County could soon lose an entire ambulance service to job cuts.
Scott Adams, an assistant chief with West Pierce Fire & Rescue, has raised concerns about how layoffs at American Medical Response (AMR) could impact responses to emergencies.
Adams said by the end of this month, AMR will cease operations in Pierce County.
The private ambulance company is planning to lay off 130 employees at the end of the month and Adams said it plays a key role in Pierce County.
“They have contracts with the VA hospital, Western State, and some other private care facilities,” Adams said. “So, if they pull out and they are not able to provide that service, that probably means the fire department will get calls.”
He knows that emergency responses for West Pierce Fire & Rescue will probably be impacted.
“We’re at a service, we’re on a call, and when that call comes, potentially for a cardiac arrest call, it’s possible those response times might look a little different,” he said.
Adams said AMR does a lot of transfers between medical facilities and that losing the company means that vital services will be lacking.
He doesn’t foresee WPFR doing general transfers between places like group homes and hospitals, but he knows that his service may get called for other services and that could strain their ability to respond to emergencies by adding more calls to their responsibilities.
“Some of these patients may not need emergent services and so that’s why those private ambulance companies might be a better use. You’ve got crews that are at a service trying to find a solution — find the best resources for the patients. That’s what we do. We solve problems.”
Adams estimates WPFR may respond to as many as 100 extra calls a month due to AMR’s absence. Ambulance companies across America are dealing with higher costs of gas and labor just like many other industries.
In a statement sent to KIRO 7 by a company spokesperson AMR said:
American Medical Response (AMR) officials announced that its Pierce County operation will reduce its current operating status level. The amount of reduction and subsequent permanent lay-off of existing staff is contingent upon the success of on-going discussions with current customers/partners.
Reduced demand for emergency transports, severe inflation and low government reimbursement were all factors cited for the downsizing. No other AMR operations in Washington state are included in this decision.
We are assisting employees in transferring to other positions we have open. We very much want to keep these individuals working on board Washington ambulances.
KIRO 7 stresses that this is only impacting Pierce County and Adams sees potential impacts to many fire companies across Pierce County, though the impact could vary.
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