San Luis upgrades ambulance service
2 new vehicles added to fleet
SAN LUIS, Ariz. — Having gained state approval a year ago to provide ambulance service, this city’s fire department has what it says is a full fleet of emergency vehicles ready to respond to the medical needs of residents.
At a cost of nearly $440,000, the San Luis Fire Department recently added to its fleet two new ambulances, bringing the number available to serve the rapidly growing city of more than 30,000 residents to five.
“The time came when the department had to buy ambulances. We began last year providing ambulance service on our own, and there was one point when we had only a single ambulance,” said Luis Cebreros, a fire department spokesman.
San Luis previously contracted with Rural/Metro Fire Department and later the city of Somerton to provide ambulance services to San Luis residents in need of emergency services.
Then in July 2016, the Arizona Department of Health Services issued a certificate of need to San Luis to start its own service. The fire department had one ambulance at that time, but later acquired two used ones, bringing to three the number in the fleet.
The two new ambulances, unveiled Wednesday during a San Luis City Council meeting, come with several technological upgrades, including a remote control that allows the driver to change upcoming traffic lights to green, stopping cross traffic.
That function, said Cebreros, is essential when the ambulance driver needs to clear a path through heavy traffic to reach the hospital.
He added the new ambulances also are equipped with iPads that can be used by the crews to submit electronic reports about patient conditions and to exchange essential information with other public safety agencies.
Cebreros said the San Luis Fire Department assumed full responsibility of ambulance service from Somerton earlier this year, including the function of billing customers for service.
With the latest acquisitions, the fire department will keep three ambulances at the ready, with the remaining two kept as backup in the event any of the inservice ambulances need repairs or maintenance.
Having five ambulances as opposed to three will also allow the department to reduce the wear and tear on any single one of the vehicles, he added.
“We are now fully responsible for ambulance service in San Luis, and we are sharing with the Somerton
coverage of the area that is in between the two cities. The demand for service is growing on the east side of San Luis, and we are ready to take care of it,” Cebreros said.
“We would be ready to have a substation on the east side right now if the city were decide to do it. We have enough (vehicles) and we are hiring personnel. What we need are more paramedics, and that depends on there being firefighters who want to get certified.”
He said the department is currently recruiting six firefighters to replace those who were hired by other departments offering higher salaries.
THE SAN LUIS FIRE DEPARTMENT recently unveiled two new ambulances it says will fully complement the fleet of emergency vehicles serving the city.