Ambulance Pulled from Service Over Costs

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Bill Wechter/North County Times
    Vista Fire Department firefighter/paramedic Matt Botz works with a gurney Wednesday during a routine equipment check of an ambulance at Fire Station No. 1. (Photo by Bill Wechter - Staff Photographer)

    As early as Monday morning, the city of Vista could be shutting down one of its four ambulances. It’s just one of many moves the city is facing, as it deals with a $ 9million deficit.

    “It's a bad situation,” said Fire Chief Greg Fisher. “ It's just the state of the economy.”

    In trying to do more with less, the city decided to shut down an ambulance at fire station #3 at 1070 Old Taylor Street. The move could save about $700,000.

    The fire chief says given the current budget, shutting down the ambulance is the best option.

     

    “There is really no other way to do that without devastating some other part of the fire department,” added Chief Fisher.

     

    Not everyone agrees. Vista’s Firefighter’s Association says not having an ambulance at station #3, is a bad idea.

     

    “I think there's other ways of saving money,” said union member Abel Santiago. “[Because of this]thirty percent of the time, there isn't going to be a Vista ambulance out there to provide that service. There will be an ambulance coming in from Oceanside, or Carlsbad, which is a lot farther away.

     

    Even though that may be the case, Chief Fisher says, says the impact should be minimal.

     

    “We could seen an impact in about ten percent of the time, or less,” said Fisher.

     

    Response time wouldn't really be affected, since a fire engine is usually the first one on scene (even before an ambulance). But the time needed to actually transport patients to clinics or hospitals could be delayed.

     

    “We are definitely trying to stay positive,” said Santiago. “We are still going to provide the services as best we can.”

     

    To save even more, the city is also looking into shutting off about half its street lights earlier than usual. But some argue, other options could bring in more savings, including, consolidating fire departments in the north county.

     

    “Cities like El Cajon and La Mesa and Lemon Grove have already done it,” said Santiago. “They have had some significant savings..”