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Sunnyvale firefighters concerned over lack of paramedics on emergency calls

Unlike most other cities in Santa Clara County, Sunnyvale firefighters have no paramedics on staff. That’s causing concerns about what kind of life-saving services they can offer when they deal with medical emergencies. 

In place of paramedics, crews have Emergency Medical Technicians, commonly known as EMTs

“The difference is: a paramedic arriving on the scene during a respiratory or cardiac emergency can administer life-saving medication or whatever life-saving procedures, when an EMT cannot,” said Lieutenant Devon Klein, the President of the Sunnyvale Public Safety Officers’ Association. 

NBC Bay Area has previously covered the county’s ambulance shortage. So Sunnyvale first responders say, at times, they will have to wait for up to 40 minutes for both an ambulance and a paramedic. 

“Minutes can be the difference between life and death,” Klein said. “Minutes can be the difference between treating an injury and the injury worsening.”

Part of the issue is Sunnyvale’s different model for first responders. Police officers are also firefighters during different parts of the year, but none of them are paramedics. 

At the moment, the county ambulance system requires the first emergency crew to arrive to fire assess the situation before calling for an ambulance if one is needed. 

Harry Lampman, who has had to dial 911 in the past, says that’s not good. 

“It’s worrisome because I’ve had four strokes,” Lampman said. “I need attention sometimes. It could be bothersome.”

The city’s Department of Public Safety Chief Phan Ngo said his office has been talking to the country to explore options to better support first responders. 

“I’m just as concerned as them,” Ngo said. “This is an issue that we’ve been monitoring for the last year or so, in terms of the response times of the ambulance services provider here in Santa Clara County.”

Some have suggested that Sunnyvale pay for its own 24/7 ambulance. But crews say they need help now so they can save lives. 

Source: NBC Bay Area

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