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Santa Barbara Co. supervisors to vote on ambulance provider

County Fire
Posted at 5:49 PM, Mar 27, 2023

An upcoming vote by the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors could bring big changes to local emergency response.

The Santa Barbara County Fire Department is proposing to take over full oversight of countywide ambulance response services.

The county fire department already provides ambulance services for a few locations, but private contractor AMR handles the majority of emergency medical responses throughout Santa Barbara County.

That could change come next Tuesday, when the Board of Supervisors will consider whether to make the fire department or AMR the county’s exclusive ambulance provider.

County fire officials believe they can improve response times and shared their plans at a press conference Monday afternoon.

“When we are on scene for extended periods of time, waiting for an ambulance, we see that as a problem or an issue that we would be able to solve by providing a plan where we provide our principles of service to the community, to the ambulance system,” said Bryan Fernandez, Vice President of the United Firefighters of Santa Barbara County.

“Our designed system will strive for 100% response time compliance,” added Chief Chris Mailes, City of Santa Barbara Fire Department.

He says the county fire department would accomplish that goal by increasing their number of ambulances by 30%. He claims the switch from a private contractor could also benefit taxpayers.

“Revenue that is collected will be invested back into our local community for additional EMS and medically focused programs,” Mailes said.

He says that includes programs like injury prevention classes, school outreach and career path guidance courses.

KSBY News reached out to AMR for comment but was told that they did not have anyone available to speak on the matter.

The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors will review both plans at their meeting on April 4.

The County EMS Agency holds both County Fire and AMR ambulances to the following response time standards:

Code 3 (lights & sirens)

  • 7:59 for Urban Areas
  • 14:59 for Semi-Rural Areas
  • 29:59 for Rural Areas

Code 2 (no lights & no sirens)

  • 14:59 for Urban Areas
  • 24:59 for Semi-Rural Areas
  • 39:59 for Rural Areas