Ambulance service growing in The City 

A wail of sirens south of Market Street will be part of a cacophony of new ambulance services expected to hit the streets and improve emergency-response times in The City.

Private ambulance providers are currently prevented by San Francisco from responding to 911 calls after The City gradually gained a monopoly on the largely insurance-funded service.

But in 2008, the California Emergency Medical Services Authority  ordered major changes to that system when it told The City to call for bids from organizations interested in taking over the service or to allow new providers into the market.

The City opted for the latter option and is now reviewing applications filed by three companies seeking to respond to 911 calls.

St. Joseph’s Ambulance Services and ProTransport-1 plan to expand existing San Francisco services.

Both companies presently move patients between hospitals and perform other nonemergency roles.

The third company, Foster City-based Bayshore Ambulance, proposed opening a new ambulance operation at Bryant and Seventh streets.

The company did not return phone messages seeking information about the potentially noisy operation.

But City Planner Edgar Oropeza said the facility, which would open inside an existing building, will initially house a single ambulance.

The Planning Commission is scheduled to consider the proposal next week.

The pending growth in emergency ambulance providers will improve response times, according to Mike Williams, whose Abaris Group consults about such matters.

“If a company applies, they should be allowed to be on rotation with The City for ambulance calls,” Williams said. “The way they operate today is really old-fashioned.”

San Francisco Department of Emergency Management official Rob Dudgeon said service will improve after new ambulances are added to the 911 system — but that improvement could be short-lived.

“The system can only financially support so many resources,” Dudgeon said

The Fire Department expects to lose revenue once its paramedics start sharing work, spokeswoman Lt. Mindy Talmadge said.


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