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San Diego considering action if ambulance provider doesn't drastically improve

Action could be taken as soon as January.

SAN DIEGO — The City of San Diego is now considering what action it will take if Falck doesn't make major changes to improve its response times and ongoing staffing issues, and said action could be taken as soon as January.

"We can't wait any longer we are already in a position we need to start addressing this issue now," Chief Colin Stowell, San Diego Fire Chief.

Falck began working for the city one year ago.

"They promised they would do better and be better and they have not in a single month in the past year, not once have they lived up to the minimum," said Marni von Wilpert, a member of San Diego's City Council.

Falck's goal is to arrive to life saving calls within 12 minutes but the Stowell said the fire department has seen it take an ambulance up to 25 minutes to arrive. This forces firefighters to step in when the ambulance doesn't arrive fast enough.

"I've got an obligation to continue to provide a certain service level to the community and make sure this impact doesn't fall on the firefighters," he said. 

CBS 8 asked the Stowell if they're considering ending their contract with Falck.

"It's always a possibility. We would hope we don't have to go down that route it can be a long route," he said.

Other options include staffing Falck ambulances with city paramedics or adding on another ambulance provider. 

Falck sent CBS 8 the following statement Thursday evening:

“The U.S. is facing is a national staffing crisis across all of healthcare, with a particular shortage of paramedics nationwide. Here in San Diego, people’s health and safety are our top priority, and Falck is putting more ambulances on the street than ever before in the city’s history. We recognize that we still have room to improve, especially with rising call volumes and hospital delays causing backups in the 911 system. We’re working closely with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department and making investments that will bring more paramedics to the system We are eager to work with local hospitals to turn over care of our patients more quickly so our ambulances can respond to new 911 calls.

This is a challenging time to be a frontline healthcare worker regardless of location, and the Falck paramedics and EMTs serving the City of San Diego deserve to be recognized for their dedication and hard work. We appreciate everything they do to help people when they need it most," Falck said in a statement.

"At some point they either need to make those changes or we need to make those changes for them," Stowell said

WATCH RELATED: Staffing issues persist for Falck, San Diego's ambulance provider (Nov. 2022).



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