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GFD's ambulance shortage makes for response delays

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On Monday Guam Fire Department medics responded to a shooting in Dededo.  Because there were no available ambulances, a medic assigned to the Agat Fire Station responded to the shooting victim.  The shortage of ambulances is becoming an emergency situation for first responders.
 
GFD personnel who respond to emergencies on a daily basis know that a single minute can mean the difference between life and death.  While the first firefighters on the scene are trained to provide basic EMT services, what's alarming is that it may take the department longer to respond to critical situations that require immediate hospitalization, as there are only six working ambulances for the entire island.
 
Batallion Chief Roy Dirige said, "The optimal number we'd like to see is eight or nine running in the fleet, but with mechanical problems with some of our units we don't want to rush that also because if the patients are on the rig and they're on the road that's going to cause even more problems."  Just today, a firefighter - who wished to remain anonymous - said that a medic from Inarajan was called to respond to an incident in Tamuning, and a medic in Agat was called halfway across the island to Yigo. 
 
While the fire department has previously relied on a mutual aid agreement with the military to assist them when there are ambulance shortages that assistance has been scaled back.  GFD spokesman Joey San Nicolas said, "They are also at critical levels so their ability to help outside the fenceline is also affected. We're both going through somewhat of a similar situation."
 
While firefighters say they are coping with the medic shortage, it remains a troubling fact that unless remedied soon will only get worse with the impending military buildup, which will mean a much larger population to serve.
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