City considers plan to allow Flight for Life ambulance at firehouse

By Jason Arndt

Staff Writer

The City of Burlington Fire Department could take patient care to the next level under a proposed partnership with Flight for Life for paramedic intercept services.

Flight for Life, a provider of critical air transport for patients, looks to house a ground ambulance and its crew at the city’s fire station 24/7 at no cost to the city as part of the agreement.

Fire Chief Alan Babe explained the proposed partnership to the Common Council at Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

“What this agreement is allowing us to do is to be able to have a mutual aid agreement in place for Flight for Life to be able to provide a higher level of care when it is appropriate and have them right here in the station,” he said.

“We can use Flight for Life when we have those long haul transports to the appropriate facility.”

Babe, meanwhile, told the Common Council having Flight for Life in-house will bring additional benefits as well as reducing the burden on other municipalities who provide mutual aid.

Currently, the City of Burlington carries an Advanced Medical Technician license, which is not a paramedic level service.

“When the City of Burlington Fire Department receives a call for service that exceeds our current capability, we must rely on other departments to assist and provide mutual aid to ensure that the patient receives the proper level of care.”

Reliance on other municipalities, he said, can result in delays for the most critical patients in the town and city of Burlington.

District 4 Alderman Todd Bauman questioned Babe on what is considered a call exceeding its capabilities.

Babe, in response, used a pulseless non-breathing patient as an example stating these type of calls are strenuous and having Flight for Life would bolster efficiency.

Babe said Flight for Life will be responsible for its operational costs as part of the agreement.

“They are responsible for all costs regarding their operations. Again, the big thing for Flight for Life is they will be able to help us train our EMTs in our department with the staff that they have available.”

Babe, however, said the city fire department will still be able to generate revenue with its own ambulance service, for which he foresees continued growth in demand even with the presence of the Flight for Life ambulance.

      To read the entire story, including reaction from Common Council members, see the May 7 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.