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Ambulance program set to grow

Fire Department is hiring operators to respond to non-emergencies.

August 16, 2010|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

GLENDALE — The city's ambulance program that was set up to handle less pressing emergency calls is in the process of expanding, officials said, with plans in place to hire up to 10 part-time operators.

The Glendale Fire Department's Basic Life Support program will add ambulance operators to fill recently vacant positions and supplement its expanding medic program, officials said.

Fire officials are planning to hire three to 10 part-time operators to replace others who have left because they were hired on as firefighters with the department or are working with other agencies, said Greg Anderson, Glendale Fire's emergency medical technician coordinator.

The unit has four vacant positions, said Mania Hoonanian, the city's senior human resources analyst.

With the new hires, fire officials are planning to expand their Basic Life Support program to include an early-morning shift, Anderson said.

The program was created to help the department's paramedics with the bulk of non-emergency calls, which often slow response times to more pressing calls, he said.

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"It gives them more resources," Anderson said.

The program was also developed last year out of a need to address the city's fiscal crisis because the ambulance operators are less expensive than full-time firefighter medics. The first group of ambulance operators graduated in January.

The unit has 16 part-time operators who work 12-hour shifts from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and from noon to midnight, according to the Fire Department.

"They are responding to lots of calls," Anderson said.

Fire officials are hoping to kick off the new early-morning rotation before next year, he added.

The early-morning rotation from midnight to 7:30 a.m. is being handled by the more expensive firefighter paramedics.

Having a Basic Life Support unit on the rotation would free up paramedics from responding to two to six calls per night, Anderson said.

Paramedics would also have faster response times to emergency calls and wouldn't have to exit hospitals as quickly, he said.

The additional rotation would also allow the Basic Life Support unit to run a 24-hour operation.

The Fire Department reported receiving more than 200 applications for the ambulance operator position, with roughly 167 of those taking a written exam. Of that group, nearly 60 were interviewed, Anderson said.

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