Community Feedback: Ambulance Service Expansion

With Gilbert’s mission to anticipate, create and help people in mind, the Gilbert Fire & Rescue Department (GFRD) proposed to expand their ambulance/transportation division. The proposal included six GFRD-run ambulances to cover the entire Gilbert boundary, securing a critical line of service and providing the best possible care and protection for you, our residents.  

Watch to learn more about the ambulance service in Gilbert. ⬇️ 

We asked the community to be part of the decision-making process by asking for their feedback in a survey. The results were used to understand the community’s ambulance service priorities. 

We received 945 responses. Let’s look at what you had to say.  

Who took the survey? 83% of respondents live in Gilbert. 

59.2% of respondents said they are a Gilbert resident and 24.3% said they live and work in Gilbert. 10.6% work in Gilbert and 5.9% none of these options apply to them

93.3% of respondents said ambulance response times are very important.

Background: Currently, an international private-sector company provides ambulance service in Gilbert. From May 1, 2019 through April 30, 2020, there were 333 ambulance responses, including 79 (24%) Code 3 (lights and sirens) responses, that exceeded the response time agreed upon in the contract. 

Question: If you or a loved one needed ambulance services, how important is it to you that an ambulance arrive in time to positively effect patient outcomes? 

Respondents ranked quality of training and response time as their top priorities. 

57.6% of respondents ranked “quality of training of personnel responding to your emergency” as the single most important factor to them if they or a loved one were to be transported by an ambulance during an emergency. 45.6% of respondents ranked “response time (ability to get there as quickly as possible” as the second most important factor. 

BackgroundIn 2013, the Town of Gilbert learned through media reports that its ambulance provider had filed for bankruptcy. It has been documented in other cities across the country that private ambulance companies have gone on strike or suddenly closed their operations overnight and stopped providing ambulance transport.   

Questions: Which of these is the single most important factor to you if you or a loved one were to be transported by an ambulance during an emergency? Which of these is the second most important factor to you if you or a loved one were to be transported by an ambulance during an emergency?

66.8% of respondents said local control over operational elements is very important. 

Background: Under the current private provider model for ambulance services, Gilbert has no control over billing rates, staffing and hiring and has little influence on service levels, response times and training. 

Question: How important is it to you that Gilbert Town Council has control over things like response times, staffing levels, billing rates and other operational elements? 

80.4% of respondents said it is very important that invoices are accurate, and efforts are made to collect insurance payments before sending a bill. 

Background: Problems with billing for any service can be frustrating, especially if the provider doesn’t try to work with your insurance company. To ensure that out-of-pocket expenses are kept to a minimum for patients transported by ambulance, GFRD bills the patient’s insurance before a bill is sent directly to the patient. GFRD also has a comprehensive quality insurance process focused on ensuring proper billing rates are submitted for reimbursement. This process alleviates many of the frustrations customers face when dealing with payment issues. Additionally, GFRD provides direct customer interface to address billing questions without relying on an out of state call center. 

Question: How important is it to you that efforts are made to collect insurance payments before sending you a bill and that processes are in place to confirm the accuracy of the invoice? 

59.9% of respondents said it is very important to have the option to be transported by ambulance to an alternate care facility based on the type of emergency. 

Background: Sometimes transport to the hospital is not needed and it is more appropriate for patients to be transported to alternate care facilities such as a free-standing emergency department, a behavioral health facility or an urgent care to receive treatment. Right now, GFRD is the only ambulance provider in town that has the ability to transport to free-standing emergency departments under a protocol approved by GFRD’s medical director.  

Question: If you need a medical transport, how important is it to you to have the option to be transported by ambulance to an alternate care facility based on your type of emergency?  

Additional comments and feedback varied from GFRD ambulance support, opposition to the proposal, opportunities for education, and more.  

52.8% (499) of respondents provided additional comments or feedback. Each comment was grouped into common themes, which could fall into multiple categories. For example, one comment may have been counted under “Better Contracts” and “AMR Praise”. A majority of comments were in support of a GFRD ambulance service. 

Gilbert Town Council Decision: Approved. 

Gilbert Town Council approved the purchase of six ambulances and six ambulance stretchers and power cots on August 25th, which means GFRD will begin augmenting its existing ambulance service throughout Gilbert in mid-2021. 

Town Council also approved a two-year contract renewal with American Medical Response (AMR), the current private ambulance service provider to continue service while we work toward the long-term expansion in the coming months.  

Thank you to all of our community members who participated in the survey! To view the open-ended comments, click below to view the data set or click “Learn More” to learn more about Gilbert’s ambulance proposal. 

Community Safety

Finance and Operations

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