Neighbor Will emailed Bernalwood to share some concerns about emergency medical team staffing at SFFD Station 32 in Holly Park. He also calls your attention to a Fire Commission meeting that’s happening tonight:
There are some changes afoot with how the San Francisco Fire Department assigns paramedics to neighborhoods, and Station 32 in Holly Park is one of the fire houses that are affected.
Until this week, Station 32 was “high priority” enough to have an Advanced Life Support (ALS) engine. This meant that one of the engine crew was always a paramedic. However, in the last few days the SFFD has reorganized this priority list, which in effect means that Engine 32 will almost never have a paramedic assigned. Bernal Height’s engine will become Basic Life Support (BLS) only. This means that medical calls will be attended to by an EMT until an ALS engine or an ambulance arrives with a paramedic on board. Paramedics are trained and licensed to administer life-saving drugs; EMTs are not.
Particularly in the light of the poor response times of SFFD ambulances that have been widely reported, Bernal residents should be concerned about this sudden change in paramedic coverage. Someone in the neighborhood in cardiac arrest will now have to wait for an ALS engine from Station 11 (26th @ Church), Station 9 (Jerrold @ Upton), or for one of the overstretched ambulances in order to receive the drugs and paramedic care that may save their life.
A further concern is that the engine at 32 is a compact apparatus which is able to maneuver well in the narrow streets of Bernal Heights. The regular sized engines which will be rushing to the neighborhood have a far more difficult time negotiating these streets, which will potentially affect the response time to a medical emergency.
I am very close to an employee of SFFD; they do not wish to publicly question or criticize the Department because of the fear of disciplinary action. I think it would be great if somebody from Bernalwood called the Department to find out what is behind these changes. Concerned citizens might want to ask questions at an SF Fire Commission meeting; the next one will take place on October 9 at 4pm at SFFD Headquarters, 698 2nd Street.
PHOTO: Engine 11 in Bernal Heights, by Telstar Logistics