Pilot Program Using Private Ambulances OKd

Seeking to cut costs and improve emergency response time, the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday approved a pilot program in which private ambulances will supplement city paramedic services in the San Fernando Valley.

During the eight-month program, about 4,000 patients in the Valley whose lives are not in danger will be transported to hospitals by private ambulances, Los Angeles Fire Department officials said.

City Fire Department dispatchers will continue to send a paramedic van, an ambulance or fire truck to all emergency calls. Crews will decide whether the patient should be transported to a hospital by city paramedics or, if the injury or malady is not serious, by a private ambulance.

Battalion Chief Dean Cathey said that if the pilot program works in the Valley, the department will seek council permission to expand it throughout the city. The department is hoping the program will lower costs and simultaneously improve emergency response time.

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