L.A.'s risky proposal to tweak 911 responses

To the editor: The L.A. City Fire Department has more than 100 fire stations. Part of the reason fire engines are dispatched to medical calls, even "minor" calls, is because the fire engines are closer than many of the ambulances. ("Let paramedics and nurse practitioners handle some 911 calls," editorial, April 8)

Typically, a fire engine will have a five-minute response time. Does the city proposal to have ambulances with a nurse and paramedic respond to some minor emergencies call for having an ambulance, nurse and paramedic at each fire station to maintain that response time?


Another problem is that it is often very difficult to determine if a medical call is "minor" or more serious. Often, fire department dispatchers have a difficult time getting the proper information to determine the seriousness of an incident.

This proposal may be a risky one.

Mike Reardon, Fallbrook

The writer is a retired captain in the Los Angles Fire Department.


To the editor: An ambulance that is not accompanied by an engine crew should have at least three people in it. Two rescuers may not be able to handle seriously injured people without doing more harm.

Many houses have narrow stairs, narrow halls or overcrowded bedrooms, making it impossible for two people to lift a very sick or unconscious person from the floor to the gurney without further hurting that person.

During World War II, I was given temporary duty as a "litter bearer" at a hospital in England. This hospital was receiving the most seriously wounded by the train load. It would take five of us to transfer someone in a body cast from the gurney to the hospital bed.

A third person on an ambulance will often be needed. Councilman Mitchell Englander, the author of the proposal, is a reserve police officer himself, making it possible that he has been the third man on some ambulance calls.

Raiford Langford, Sherman Oaks

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