RAMONA, Calif. — Ramona has been underserved for emergency medical services for decades and receiving additional medical and fire protection services for its 40,000 people is a huge win for this area. 

Fire Station 80 in Ramona is one of three fire stations located in the heart of this unincorporated area.

Ramona’s rural roots easily become a tourist destination, but during the summer season, brush fires become dangerous.

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There's also medical attention needed everyday, the only problem is for decades they’ve only had two fire engines and two ambulance vehicles - the nearest hospital being 30 minutes away in Poway.

"We’ve long needed a third ambulance in Ramona, our closest hospital is in Poway or Escondido, so when we transport, the ambulance is gone for over an hour,” said San Diego County Fire Chief, Tony Mecham who adds that Ramona’s Municipal Water District has had a contract with Cal Fire for its fire protection and emergency medical services since 1993. 

However, funding to increase staffing and provide a third ambulance are lacking because the district uses discretionary funds to fill the gaps in providing fire and EMS services.

With rising costs, San Diego County Fire is taking over responsibility  and bringing additional services.

“Back in 2008 the county formed the San Diego County Fire Authority, with the goal of improving fire and medical services across the county, so we’ve had a lot of agencies join the county and Ramona was our last,” said SDCF fire Chief Mecham.

With the help of county fire, they now increased staffing, put a third person on all fire engines and brought a third ambulance vehicle. They also added new fire engines for all three fire stations in Ramona. 

With service costs increasing, San Diego County Fire Chief Mecham also added that the district's concern was also that those services could have consumed the district's discretionary tax revenue, for now that's been avoided.

Watch Related: Millions must cut water use in drought-stricken California (April 2022)

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