Emergency Medical Services
The City of Eugene began providing ambulance services in 1981. It was a sudden transition as the previous provider went out of service with virtually no notice.
This also affected the neighboring City of Springfield. Contingency plans were implemented immediately, and there was no interruption of service to the public. Together, the two cities went on to win the prestigious Paramedic Service of the Year Award, sponsored by the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, in 1985.
In August 2002, following a comprehensive two-year study and a series of pilot projects, Eugene Fire & EMS implemented Phase 1 of a redesign of its emergency medical services. Phase 1 included the following:
- Adoption of new call-taking and dispatch protocols enabling us to better match an appropriate response to each specific medical incident
- Staffing of all first-response Eugene engine companies in the City with at least one Certified Paramedic
- Conversion of one fire station crew to a "combination crew" able to respond with either a fire engine or an ambulance, as needed
- The addition of ambulances staffed by medics not cross-trained as firefighters, operating during hours of peak demand
In 2010, additional redesigning was implemented. Rural/Metro Ambulance was contracted to assume responsibility for certain categories of non-emergent medical transports. This allowed the department to retrain and reassign the previous single role medics into dual role positions. In addition, a 24 hour ambulance was put into service at the Downtown Fire Station at 13th and Willamette and a dual-role peak-demand unit was put into service at the Sheldon Station.
Further redesigning was implemented in 2011 when the department partnered with Life Flight Network. There is now a Life Flight air medical transport helicopter located at the Whitaker Station. This has decreased Life Flights response times to the Metro Service area and has provided another layer of service available to the community.
Eugene’s emergency medical response deployment includes:
- Twelve paramedic engine companies,
- Three 24-hour ambulances plus a fourth peak activity ambulance and a fifth overload ambulance that can be up-staffed with a crew assigned to a fire suppression company .
- Rural/Metro has two additional intermediate life support 24-hour ambulances for non-emergent and interfacility transports
Paramedic engine companies are housed in neighborhood fire stations. Because there are more of these than there are staffed ambulances, there is a good chance that a fire engine will arrive at a medical emergency before an ambulance does. In the great majority of cases, the arrival of definitive medical care to the patient is more critical than the arrival of a vehicle to subsequently transport the patient to the hospital.
The population served includes not only the City of Eugene, but five fire protection contract districts and a large portion of rural Lane County (a total of approximately 440 square miles). The department responds to approximately 40 emergency medical calls each day. All responses are with Advanced Life Support capable resources.