Private ambulances coming to DC is temporary fix

Don't hold your breath that private EMS handling less emergent calls will resolve the underlying problems at DC Fire and EMS


The inability for the nation's capital city government to provide adequate emergency ambulance response to its citizens has been well documented.

It’s taken decades but it seems that a frustrated city council has finally made an attempt to remedy the situation by bringing additional resources into the system through the use of private ambulance providers for less emergent calls.

No doubt there will be a fuss over this development — the public versus private EMS argument has been around for a long time. To be clear, I am neither pro-public nor pro-private, but I am all for a system that works effectively and efficiently in providing field care and transportation to its citizens, and that is held accountable for its actions.

DC Fire and EMS hasn’t been able to demonstrate that for a long time.

Should the private sector ambulances be scrutinized closely? Absolutely, as should any public sector agency.

As upholders of the public trust, EMS organizations are beholden to their communities, and must be able to provide services that best benefit the population as a whole. In DC’s case, it’s possible that using supplemental private EMS providers can be limited as a temporizing measure until the underlying issues of DCFEMS are resolved.

But I’m not holding my breath. As I’ve commented in the past, it would require a wholesale change of thinking with administrative and labor leadership, along with rank and file, to evolve a system that is so disabled it can’t respond effectively.

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