Emergency Medical Services
Most ambulance service in the Portland tri-county area is provided by privately owned for-profit ambulance companies that work in conjunction with local fire departments – the firefighters usually arrive as first responders to provide initial medical care, then a few minutes later a private ambulance crew will arrive to take the patient to the hospital if necessary. The level of initial care provided by the firefighters varies from place to place, with larger agencies usually providing paramedic level care and small (mostly volunteer) agencies providing basic emergency medical technician (EMT) level care. The private ambulance always has at least one paramedic on the crew.
One of the exceptions to this “firefighters first – private ambulance later” model is right here in Canby. Canby Fire District is a fully integrated firefighting, rescue, and emergency medical service (EMS) agency that provides paramedic level ambulance service to our citizens. Firefighter/paramedics on Canby Fire ambulances almost always arrive first to medical calls in our area, and are backed up by other Canby Fire personnel responding on a second ambulance, fire engine, or chief’s vehicle depending on the information received at the 911 dispatch center. These crews work and train together, and are able to provide seamless medical care from the time they arrive at the patient’s side all the way until the patient is delivered to a physician at a hospital emergency department.
The Canby Fire District operating levy tax, supported and passed by local voters in 2002 and reaffirmed by voters in 2006, allowed Canby Fire to hire enough firefighter/paramedics to staff a second ambulance. This second ambulance is available 24 hours a day unless the crew is busy with firefighting duties or helping the first ambulance crew with a critical patient. Our volunteer firefighter corps, many of whom are EMTs, provide valuable depth that allows us to simultaneously transport multiple patients in our two ambulances. Canby Fire also has a third ambulance that can also be used to transport a patient if enough paramedic and backup EMT personnel are available.
Of the 940 patients who called 911 and were transported by ambulance from Canby Fire District in 2007, 887 were taken to the hospital by Canby Fire paramedics. Another 53 patients were taken by other ambulance agencies such as American Medical Response, Molalla Fire District, or Woodburn Ambulance. Our partner agency ambulances are used when there are multiple medical calls happening at the same time, or when a significant event such as a head-on car crash occurs that may require our paramedic crews to extricate patients from vehicles or suppress a vehicle fire. Another 29 critical trauma patients were transported by Canby Fire paramedics to a local landing zone, where they were transferred to a medical helicopter and airlifted to a regional trauma hospital in Portland.
It is worth saying again - thanks to the support of our local taxpayers, we are able to provide high quality ambulance service to our citizens and rarely have to use an ambulance from a neighboring agency. It is our goal to provide paramedic level care as quickly as possible to our citizens when they call 911 for medical help, and if necessary, transport them to the hospital in a Canby Fire District ambulance.