GLENDALE — Testing is underway for approximately 80 ambulance operator hopefuls, who look forward to joining the Glendale Fire Department’s Basic Life Support emergency program.
Out of 218 applicants, 160 showed up for the department’s written exam and the remaining candidates have gone through interviews, said Glendale Fire Battalion Chief Greg Godfrey, who oversees emergency service operations.
Some of the candidates are locals, while others live in nearby cities, he added.
“We are looking for the most qualified candidates who will provide the best service to the community,” he said.
The candidates are competing for 20 positions on the Fire Department’s Basic Life Support program, which Godfrey said will now include an ambulance component.
In the past, patients were transferred only in the department’s Advanced Life Support ambulances, but two of those ambulances are slated for the Basic Life Support program, which will handle non-life threatening emergency calls.
The new system is expected Glendale Fire paramedics to respond to more critical calls, officials said.
The new ambulance system was developed out of a need to address the city’s multimillion-dollar budget deficit earlier this summer, and to improve response times to emergency calls.
The city’s five rescue ambulances responded to a combined 1,151 emergency calls in August, according the Fire Department.
Of those calls for service, the categories with the most logged incidents were minor falls, shortness of breath, heart attacks, loss of consciousness and miscellaneous, according to the department’s August report.
The figures were relatively unchanged for the same period in 2008, which logged 1,166 calls for service among the five rescue ambulances, according to the department.
Glendale Fire Chief Harold Scoggins told the Civil Service Commission in August that the new ambulance system would be equal to cutting back to two Advanced Life Support staffers per day.
Ambulance operators are essentially emergency medical technicians who are able to drive ambulances, Godfrey said.
The department’s is also looking to hire an ambulance coordinator to manage the program.
Godfrey said he anticipated the new ambulance system would be up and running by Jan. 1.