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State OK's second ambulance company for Prescott Valley area. Here's why response times are expected to improve

CAFMA has been critical of AMR's response times, claiming they've transported patients themselves, because AMR's ambulances are not available.

PRESCOTT VALLEY, Ariz. — Arizona officials have approved a second ambulance company to operate in the Prescott Valley area. 

This comes after years of fighting between the Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority (CAFMA) and ambulance giant AMR. CAFMA has been critical of AMR's response times, claiming that they've been forced to transport patients themselves, sometimes in personal vehicles, because AMR's ambulances aren't available. 

Central Arizona Fire and Medical has been asking the state to let it run its own ambulance service to pick up the slack, but so far they have not been granted approval. 

Instead, on Wednesday, the Arizona Department of Health Services gave Priority Ambulance Yavapai permission to start operating in the area, giving AMR some competition in the area. 

Fire Chief Scott Freitag has been vocal about his issues with AMR, which goes by Life Line in the Prescott/Prescott Valley area. 

Most recently, Freitag said the department was called to an unresponsive 10-year-old at a T-ball tournament at Bradshaw Mountain Middle School. 

“The ambulance that was coming was delayed initially," he said. "There was no ambulance available from AMR to respond.”

That condition is called Level Zero, when all ambulances are assigned to calls and none are free, Freitag said. 

Freitag said eventually an ambulance from AMR came available on its way back from a call and arrived at the scene at the same time as firefighters. 

But, Freitag said, the ambulance came without a paramedic.

“They showed up as a basic life support (BLS)," he said. "So only two EMTs on the unit, no paramedics.”

Paramedics, Freitag said, have more advanced medical training than EMTs. When a paramedic is on board, it's called Advanced Life Support.

Freitag said the 10-year-old was transported and recovered. 

AMR sent a lengthy statement, accusing Central Arizona Fire and Medical of misleading people: 

Officials with Life Line Ambulance categorically disagree with claims made by the Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority on social media from June 17, 2022, regarding a medical call at Bradshaw Middle School.

CAFMA intentionally omitted essential details in their post, which is misleading to the public. First responders from Life Line arrived on scene in 9 minutes. Clinicians from CAFMA were still unloading their equipment and had not yet started patient care upon our arrival. Our teams worked seamlessly together and provided a high level of care to the patient, who was subsequently transported to the hospital in stable condition (code-2).

On the day in question, Life Line had 13 fully staffed ambulances. At the time of this call, four units were committed to long-distance interfacility transports from the local hospitals, and the remaining teams were fielding nine active 911 calls. Lifeline sent the closest available unit to respond to the call at Bradshaw Middle School.

While categorized as an ALS call, the responding crew felt this was well within their training and clinical capabilities and were fully prepared to handle the patient's condition. All of Life Line's EMTs are highly-trained and experienced professionals. Additionally, using BLS resources is within our Certificate of Necessity and is a normal part of any ALS / BLS 911 system.

We have offered CAFMA multiple agreements that would improve our EMS system in the district. CAFMA continues to decline our offers to improve EMS care. Life Line continues to demonstrate willingness to work alongside CAFMA to provide outstanding service to our community as it has done since 1956.

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