Owasso Fire makes up for lack of available ambulances

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Reported by: Sara Whaley
Updated: 9/27/2013 10:54 pm Published: 9/27/2013 10:52 pm

Two patients and only one ambulance available: It happened Friday morning in Owasso, and FOX23 has learned it happens all over Green Country.

The Owasso Fire Department has done something to make sure their residents aren't at greater risk while waiting for other cities to help out.

It's an interesting set-up they have. The fire trucks and ambulances are operated out of the fire houses, and run by the same people … the firefighters.

At 86th Street North and Main Street it was quiet Friday evening when the FOX23 cameras were rolling, but that wasn't the case Friday morning just after 11:30 a.m.

There was an injury accident. Two people needed to go to the hospital, but out of three ambulances in the city of Owasso, only one was available.

"We had a call come in at 11:13, 11:15, that was our mutual aid for EMSA, and this accident just happened to come in at 11:36. That was our third ambulance," Battalion Chief Shane Atwell told FOX23.

An influx of calls, one to help the city of Tulsa which was facing a similar problem at the time, caused the problem.

The Owasso Fire Department had to ask for mutual aid, or help from Collinsville, and the drive took about six to seven minutes.

Chief Atwell tells FOX23 the safety of Owasso residents isn't at risk though. That's because their firemen are also their paramedics.

"It's one of our greatest attributes. We may not have a transport unit, but our services never diminish as far as the care that we can provide."

Everyone on the department from the deputy chief down to the rookie is trained to operate an ambulance.

Think of these firefighters as utility players in baseball. One shift they are here on the medic, the next they are on the engine.

So in Friday's wreck, six paramedics were available for the second patient while the Collinsville ambulance was on the way.

The city would like to have an ambulance available for every call, but that's not reality.

"That would bankrupt most municipalities. It's just not possible," Atwell said.

So they'll continue to make adjustments, because even though the budget is insufficient, they want to make sure their care is not.

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