NO AMBULANCES AVAILABLE
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
For decades, there was only one ambulance company, a private for-profit, allowed by the Department of Health Services (AZDHS) to transport in our region, and that company was, and continues to be, unable to effectively respond to emergencies in our area. Challenges with response times started after the local company was sold to a national company who was then purchased by a private equity firm.
We, and others in the state in the same or similar situations, are experiencing daily Level Zeros (no ambulances available) and extended ambulance response times. Our communities are suffering.
Over the last seven years, CAFMA attempted to resolve ambulance response issues in by working with the sole provider in our area, AMR/Life Line Ambulance, as well as AZDHS. These entities did not act to protect our communities and the situation continued to worsen.
July 1 – December 31, 2021, AMR went Level Zero at least 760 times.
CAFMA had to transport almost 100 patients from November 1, 2021 to January 31, 2022; we have now transported over 250 patients and the number continues to grow. That number doesn’t include transports by other fire agencies, nor does it include times when patients waited unacceptable amounts of time for transport, or when patients had to take a private vehicle, taxi, or rideshare.
Another private for-profit ambulance service applied with AZDHS to operate in our area in March of 2020. The current State application process allows AMR to intervene, take the applicant through a court process, in order to maintain their monopoly. The applicant spent nearly $2 million dollars and did not receive the final word on their application until July of 2022, over two years later. They did receive a CON for our region, and are currently ramping up operations!
CAFMA applied for a CON in October of 2021 and we are still moving through the beginning stages of the process. It is common to wait 18-24+ months for permission to operate ambulances in our state.
Seeing our community members in desperate need, CAFMA requested that Governor Doug Ducey sign an emergency declaration granting CAFMA temporary authority to operate ambulances in order to supplement the 9-1-1 system. Governor Ducey has so far declined. Having no other options, and recognizing that the current statute creates roadblocks for competition and creates a process that lacks oversight and transparency, we worked with agencies across the state to propose legislative changes.
HB2609 ambulance services; service areas carries the proposed legislative changes. If passed, it will make patient care the priority, clear some unnecessary hurdles, and streamline the ambulance Certificate of Necessity (CON) application process, thereby allowing communities in desperate need of safe and swift ambulance response to have a voice, and receive the help they require much faster. The bill provides for the free market to function while maintaining/implementing checks and balances. THE BILL PASSED on JUNE 23, 2022! It will go into effect in January of 2024. Thank you to everyone that supported the bill!
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
FAQs, Dispatch recordings, reports, and HB2609 info – everything you need to fully understand why ‘Level Zero’ is a problem, and how we can resolve it together.