Garden Grove

Ambulance response times are debated

CARE Ambulance provides emergency medical transport service for Garden Grove (Wikipedia).

By Jim Tortolano

Told it was potentially a “matter of life and death,” the Garden Grove City Council late Tuesday night took up a complaint from Councilmember George Brietigam about ambulance service in the city.

Near the scheduled conclusion of the session, Brietigam – who represents the West Grove, District One – addressed a coverage model by CARE Ambulance as “so egregious that people may die,” requesting that an urgency item be taken up immediately.

He was referring to CARE’s contract with the City of Garden Grove to provide emergency medical transport service to hospitals in the form of four ambulances dedicated specifically to the city.

The councilman said the ambulances were not remaining within city limits, and sometimes roamed as far as La Palma, potentially affecting response times.

City Attorney Omar Sandoval told the council that the city’s contract with CARE allowed for an exemption from those restrictions if authorized by the Orange County Fire Authority, which provides fire and emergency medical services to Garden Grove.

City Manager Scott Stiles said that the ambulance staff  “are bus drivers. They’re not paramedics. They don’t perform medical services and are not allowed to by law.”

But Councilmember Phat Bui countered by arguing that how fast the ambulance gets to a hospital was key. “I had a friend who died [of a heart attack] and the doctor told me that if he had gotten to the hospital one minute earlier, we [they] could have saved him,” he said.

The discussion turned to whether the exemption affected response times, with some other councilmembers suggesting that the regional model  – allowing the nearest ambulance to respond – might create better service.

Typically, Garden Grove was assigned three ambulances, but was paying for a fourth to ensure “parity in response times,” said Brietigam. “We’re not getting what we are paying for.”

Finally, after nearly an hour of discussion, the council concluded that the appropriate action was to schedule a study session with the ambulance provider and the OCFA to provide data on response times for the city in general and by council district, if possible. The session is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 11 at 5 p.m.

In other action Tuesday night, the council:

  • approved a request from the Buddhist Social Services Center to conduct a two-day “Buddha’s Birthday Festival” in Garden Grove Park on April 18 and 19;
  • adopted a resolution to establish a fireworks stand permit application fee of $750 (up from $500), and
  • awarded a contract worth $349,320 for the replacement of the perimeter fence at Atlantis Play Center.

2 replies »

  1. Gee, the OCFA cartel has been at the helm for all of 5 minutes and already service is starting to suffer. I’ve said it before, Garden Grove will regret joining the OCFA cartel.

  2. The dingdong of a city manager from Garden Grove doesn’t know what an EMT does. I was one for 2 years and I worked my ass off. As did my coworkers. We provided life saving treatment for patients and assisted paramedics in their tasks. When a patient is sent BLS to the hospital, they’re left in the care of EMTs, not paramedics. So take this s—-y ass story down or make an addendum and stop being as ignorant as that dingdong of a city manager.

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