Sounding the alarm in Southwest Pasadena

Recently, at a residential site proposed to temporarily house an ambulance in Southwest Pasadena, Pasadena Fire Chief Calvin Wells acknowledged that a rescue ambulance was already serving the area, and that the proposed ambulance was not an additional vehicle. He further stated that the ambulance doesn’t change the issue of fire protection.

In fact, rescue ambulance service to this area has not changed prior to, or since, the city’s closure of Fire Station 39 more than 260 days ago. Medical response units are exactly the same as they have been.

The emergency in the area is the loss of a fire engine and crew, and response times for fire protection calls show the deficiency. City Manager Michael Beck stated that 75% of the calls received in the area are medical in nature. His use of the number has been as diverse as two-thirds of the calls to now 75%. Even if residents take that number as the gospel, then I suggest people do the math.

The area receives one to two calls per day, but I’ll be conservative and use one, or about 30 calls a month. If 75% are medical, then 25% are fire-related. So about seven or eight calls per month are for fires, or are fire-related.

Tell me, who wants to be one of the seven or eight next month, or the month after? Who wants to wait for 10 minutes-plus for a fire engine to arrive on the scene to address fire, and medical issues related to a fire? The national standard is four to six minutes for all calls.

I do not have a crystal ball, nor does the city manager’s office, so what if the ratio was 50/50 — would that make a difference in the city’s desire to respond to all calls to the national standard?

What part of Pasadena do you want to live in? One where response to all calls — medical and fire — meets the standard, or one where the city picks and chooses what type of call will be answered to the standard?

An ambulance is no more a substitute for a fire engine than a pickup truck is. It’s time to stop gambling and return engine 39 to the area. There are viable, credible solutions to do that.

It just takes the will of the city to make it happen.

Stan Clark


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