Gresham Demands Multnomah County Fix Its Struggling Ambulance Service

“We must explore alternative solutions.”

Gresham city leaders are putting pressure on Multnomah County to fix its slow ambulances.

“Take immediate action to rectify this dire situation,” reads a letter sent by Mayor Travis Stovall on July 28 to the county Board of Commissioners. It’s signed by Stovall and the six members of the Gresham City Council.

A shortage of paramedics has led Multnomah County’s ambulance provider, American Medical Response, to be unable to staff all its ambulances, causing delays and even “Level 0,” a term for times when no ambulance is available. As WW reported earlier this year, Multnomah County has been at Level 0 for around 10% of calls.

The letter from Gresham leaders calls out the consequences. “On April 5, 2023, AMR was again at level zero for a significant portion of the shift. This resulted in a suicidal call being put on hold for an entire hour until AMR became available for transport. Moreover, our first responders found themselves in line behind five to six other calls for an ambulance, leading to critical delays in emergency medical care.”

The letter goes on to say that experts believe the county’s “outlier policy requiring ambulances to be staffed by two highly trained paramedics should be revisited, replaced, or repealed.”

The county disagrees. Dr. Jonathan Jui, the medical director of the county’s emergency medical services, believes the two paramedic policy is necessary to provide the best possible care for critical patients. He told WW in June that although the slow service was not “optimal,” there had been no “adverse effects.”

WW reported last month that the county is considering fining AMR for its poor performance after previously declining to do so.

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