As the morning sun was rising over Idyllwild Wednesday morning, Pine Cove residents awoke to a new group of emergency medical providers. American Medical Response was ready for the first day of its new coverage.
Pursuant to the newest contract between Riverside County and AMR, the ambulance service is now responsible for County Service Area 38 (Pine Cove) and from Lake Hemet to Poppet Flats, except, of course, for the Idyllwild Fire Protection District.
“We’re very pleased to be in Pine Cove,” said Doug Key, AMR’s general manager in the county. “This is just a different response area; but more coverage on the Hill. By adding the mountain, we improve our service.”
Jack Hansen is the AMR official responsible for getting the staff ready to serve the Hill. He oversees the service and is no stranger to providing emergency medical service here. Before joining AMR, he started his career in 1979 with Hemet Valley Ambulance.
“The challenge of working here is the time of transport to a hospital,” Hansen said. In addition, he showed his experience when he said AMR has purchased two 4-wheel drive ambulances — one for Pine Cove and the other in Anza.
AMR has leased a house on Sherman Drive to serve as its station, where the crews will sleep and eat. Each crew — a paramedic and an emergency medical technician — will have a 48-hour shift and three crews will rotate giving Pine Cove and the area a 24/7 service.
“The paramedics who have been with AMR are looking forward to being part of the community,” Hansen said. Being part of the community will mean more than responding to emergency calls or transporting someone to a hospital.
The call volume for Pine Cove is less than AMR’s other service areas, but Key said, “This allows us to serve the community. We want to know people’s names.”
AMR will offer training to the community, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It also will be available for blood-pressure checks. In the future, AMR may offer a community paramedic medicine program, according to Hansen. This will serve individuals recently discharged from the hospital and who may want someone to look in on them. AMR will not charge for a dry run, a call when no transport is needed, he stressed.
When a transport is needed, AMR will go to the hospital, which can provide the patient the best and quickest care. “Some people want to be taken to where their doctor is,” Hansen said. “We’ll try to accommodate them if their condition is stable.”
The primary focus on Pine Cove and its other mountain areas was demonstrated when Hansen said this unit would leave the Hill to back up any other AMR area. While it may provide back-up service to AMR’s Garner Valley and Anza responsibilities and possibly Idyllwild, the attention is local.
“My goal, our goal as AMR, is to coordinate and to cooperate with the Cal Fire, Idyllwild Fire, the Forest Service, and the Sheriff’s Department to provide these citizens the best care,” he said. “I’m vested here in the central county. I want to make the service the best service you can get anywhere.”