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Tempe to start own ambulance service, keep private companies as backup

(Flickr/Andrew Malone)

PHOENIX — Tempe has begun to roll out its own ambulance service that will eventually take over for private companies contracted by the city.

The city started using two of its own ambulances Oct. 30 with the goal of building a fleet of the vehicles within the next five years.

“More than 80 percent of emergency calls we see are medical in nature, so it makes sense that Tempe Fire Medical Rescue oversees the physical assets,” Greg Ruiz, chief of the Tempe Fire Medical Rescue Department, said in a release.

The fleet would eventually be staffed by non-sworn paramedics and emergency medical technicians.

The city planned to have three ambulances on the streets by the end of the first year of the program. The cost to operate and staff the vehicles was expected to top $1.9 million.

The Tempe ambulances will be funded in part by service fees, which will not differ from the rates set by the Arizona Department of Health Services that are charged by private companies.

Patients transported by the city will receive a bill from Tempe Fire Medical Rescue, while those taken by a company will receive a bill from that provider.

The city planned to keep a backup emergency services arrangement in place with Professional Medical Transport.


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