Dallas Fire-Rescue is looking at solutions to an ambulance shortage, Chief David Coatney says.
Coatney says two instances during the summer of 2017 where there were not enough ambulances for calls made it very clear action was necessary.
“The triggering events for us, or what really brought it into focus, is us running out of EMS units a couple times this summer,” said Coatney.
The department is now in the process of implementing a tiered dispatch system that would prioritize the most serious calls and potentially also look at creative options for the common and less serious.
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Those options include possibly using a voucher system incorporating ride-sharing apps Uber, Lyft and taxis to transport the less seriously injured to the hospital.
Currently, calls as mundane as a broken finger can take precedent over more critical injuries if the 911-call comes in first. Coatney believes this needs to change.
“Some of these can be better handled on the phone and that’s where we are trying to move those folks to, the ones that don’t really have an urgent medical need,” said Coatney.
Since 2010, calls for medical assistance have risen by roughly 20 percent, according to Dallas Fire-Rescue. And at the same time, the department’s resources have not.
“I think if you say since ‘06 what have we done to make the department better, a ten year window, then I think you can point to some missed opportunities,” said Dallas City Councilmember Philip Kingston.
Kingston thinks the introduction of tiered dispatch is the right move and supports looking at creative options like rides shares and taxis to transport people to the hospital.
“I have a feeling we are headed in the right direction, there is just a lot of ground to make up,” said Kingston.