Baker City Fire Department should continue as ambulance provider

We are gravely concerned with the potential of changing Baker City ambulance service to a contractor instead of continuing the excellent service provided by Baker Fire Department. We support continuing to use the Baker Fire Department for the ambulance service.

We observed contracted ambulance attendants recently in another community care for a family member. They were scheduled for transport from a hospital to a treatment facility and return. They were very late, nearly causing our family member to lose his appointment. He was in a great deal of pain and very cold. They were not respectful of his condition, handled him poorly, did not provide a blanket or protection from the weather (raining) during transport, and worst of all, they did not know where they were going and missed the location several times. We made a complaint, but the community said that this was the only ambulance service available and they were contracted. We have not used the current Baker City Fire Department ambulance service, but know friends that have. They are reported to be very prompt, caring and careful with the patients. They certainly know where they are going as well.

Another significant reason to keep the ambulance service with the Fire Department is that it allows the Fire Department to keep the permanent staff they currently have. This helps our community twofold; by keeping qualified firefighters on hand that are also trained as paramedics. We get more bang for our bucks this way plus we continue to employ folks that live in and contribute to our community. Also, if a private ambulance company takes over then the city fire department will most likely lose much of their capabilities for fire suppression and rescue due to reduced staff.

Baker Fire Department staff are dedicated employees that provide important professional services, both medical and fire suppression, as well as fire prevention education and other services. Baker Fire Department staff have knowledge of the people who live here and where the medical services are located.

Please support keeping the ambulance service with the Baker Fire Department.

Dorothy and Bob Mason

Baker City

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(2) comments


This letter to the editor seams to be comparing a stretcher transport or a wheel chair van to an ambulance. Ambulances do not take patients to scheduled “appointments”. The letter may have been referring to an ambulance service that also conducts other operations with different apparatuses and crews. A service that Baker City Fire does not provide.


As one who has worked in public safety for 20 years before moving to Baker City over 15 years ago, I believe the way Baker City has their ambulance service set up is good. It serves the needs of the people who are injured or ill and who need care and emergency transport to the medical facility. The ambulances in Baker City are paramedic units and the people working on those ambulances have advanced training beyond the EMT level. Don't get me wrong because well trained EMTs are a Godsend as well. All of this costs money to have and maintain. Thanks to Leo Adler, we have good equipment at our disposal for this aspect of public safety. Funding of public safety services should be up there on top because we aren't talking about a bumpy street, and that is important, but of saving human life. Advanced training and education of those people providing those services costs money and there is no getting around that. Baker City Ambulance responds outside the limits and no geopolitical boundary should stop the response of emergency medical, fire or police services. Funding has to come from someplace and that comes down to the taxpayer. As far as contracting with private ambulance services is concerned, most cities in LA County do because they find it cheaper than paying all of the PERS benefits for city paramedic/ambulance employees. The Baker County Commissioners or perhaps through the services of the Baker County Sheriff will need to overlook their performance in maintaining their contractual obligations. Baker City Fire Ambulances cannot go everywhere in Baker County due to the distances involved. That would not be practical. The QRUs aren't supposed to transport but many of their rigs are equipped to do so. The volunteer ambulances we have in the county are worth their weight in gold as to the services they provide. In my opinion, maintaining the level of service we have in Baker City should not ever be up for any discussion. We, the community in and outside the city limits, need these lifesavers. People who live further away need emergency medical services available to them with personnel trained in paramedic skills. Whether that is public owned or private, the standards are the same and it is going to cost money to improve upon the current status. As one who has needed the Baker City Ambulance to save my life several years ago, I have seen what they are capable of. When I went to UCSD to the paramedic program in the earlier 1970s and worked in that field for a number of years and even though I have been out of that work for years, the work does not change. We have good competent paramedics here and as a senior citizen with health issues today, it is reassuring to know we have very competent people responding to our calls for help. We cannot afford not to maintain these level of services for us in Baker City but to also upgrade services to all of Baker County. Once again, this is going be paid by all to maintain this level of service and if they save your life or a loved one, just once, it is a bargain at any price...

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