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Laguna Beach launches in-house ambulance program

EMTs receive certificates from U.S. Rep. Michelle Steele's office during a ceremony for the new in-house ambulance program.
Emergency medical technicians receive certificates from U.S. Rep. Michelle Steele’s office, during an introduction and roll-out ceremony for the new in-house ambulance program at the Laguna Beach Fire Department at Station No. 4 on Friday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Laguna Beach debuted its in-house ambulance service on Friday, as the city hosted morning events at Fire Station Nos. 1 and 4 to commemorate the program’s launch.

Station No. 1 is on Forest Avenue, while No. 4 is on Second Avenue. There will also be an overflow ambulance housed at Fire Station No. 2, located on Agate Street.

Residents had a chance to get a sneak preview of Laguna Beach’s new ambulances on Wednesday at an event celebrating the city’s 95th birthday at the cobblestone area of Main Beach Park.

A few of the ambulance operators who will help run the service were on site to interact with residents, who were able to look inside the ambulance. Some kids got in on the fun, receiving firefighter-style hats from the emergency personnel.

Longtime Laguna Beach resident Beth Leeds is given a toy fire hat from ambulance tech Owen Fisher.
Longtime Laguna Beach resident Beth Leeds is given a toy fire hat from ambulance tech Owen Fisher during the 95th birthday celebration for the city of Laguna Beach on Wednesday when attendees got a preview of the new ambulances.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

“I’m very impressed,” Laguna Beach Mayor Sue Kempf said while in attendance at Wednesday’s event. “The fire department got 18 [ambulance operators] hired. We got the ambulances in time, so we’re ready to go. We’re going to have a smooth launch.”

The ambulance operators were required to go through an extensive ambulance academy, city officials said.

City Manager Shohreh Dupuis said the city hopes the operation will be cost neutral, but she said the transition to the city-run program would better serve residents with up to three ambulances available.

“Ambulance companies are becoming more and more sparse because they’re figuring out that you need to have a lot of rides in your town in order to make a profit, so they’re just becoming more and more difficult to actually contract with to serve the small cities like ours.

“Due to our geography and being far away from other cities, financially, it doesn’t make sense for them, so the level of service that we were getting was very poor, just having [the equivalent of] one and a half ambulances in town. If they were on a call and we got another emergency call, we wouldn’t have the ambulances to serve people. This way, we have three ambulances in town.”

The new ambulance vans on display during small ceremony officially beginning the Laguna Beach in-house ambulance program.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

In a video shared in the city’s online newsletter, Pat Cary, a captain and paramedic with the Laguna Beach Fire Department, said the ambulances would be available every hour of every day and respond to 911 medical emergencies throughout the city.

“In addition to our new ambulances, we will also have new equipment on them, such as automated external defibrillators, cardiac monitors and automated compression devices,” Cary said. “Overall, the city of Laguna Beach and the Laguna Beach Fire Department is excited about this program, and we are committed to serving you in your time of need.”

New EMTs stand at Station No. 4 following roll-out ceremony of the in-house ambulance program to Laguna Beach.
New EMTs stand at Laguna Beach Fire Department Station No. 4 following roll-out ceremony of the in-house ambulance program on Friday.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

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