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OAK PARK : Ambulance Service Cuts Response Time

Almost a year and a half after Oak Park won its battle to create a local ambulance station, paramedics are responding to emergency calls in the small unincorporated community an average of two minutes faster, according to a report released Tuesday by the county’s ambulance service provider.

Before CareLine Inc.--formerly Pruner Health Services Inc.--stationed an ambulance in Oak Park, paramedics dispatched out of Thousand Oaks took an average of 10 minutes to arrive on the scene of an accident, and residents complained that the wait was sometimes as long as 15 minutes.

The average response time between the months of May and October was about eight minutes, with the longest call taking 12 minutes, according to Barry Fisher, a CareLine operations manager. Fisher presented the report on response times to the Oak Park Municipal Advisory Council.

Advisory council members, who fought hard for their own ambulance station last year, said they are happy with the improved service.

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“A year and a half ago, we were struggling to get on-site care,” said Councilman Douglas Hewitson. “Once we got it, we have seen the times go down.”

The one-vehicle station opened in June, 1994, after a bitter battle between Pruner and the county firefighters over who could provide better emergency medical service. Firefighters argued that they could transport patients more quickly.

But based on a report by county and fire officials, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors in May renewed Pruner’s contract for two years on the condition that the company would add stations in Newbury Park and Oak Park.

Some Oak Park council members expressed concern Tuesday that the recent merger of CareLine with San Diego-based MedTrans Inc., the nation’s largest ambulance company, would affect services.

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The county first began contracting for ambulance services with the privately owned Pruner Health Services in 1963. Pruner served all of the county except Ojai, Oxnard and Port Hueneme, which contracted with other ambulance companies. Last year, Pruner was bought by CareLine Inc. in Santa Ana, the second-largest ambulance service provider in the country. MedTrans and CareLine merged last month.


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