LB City Mgm't Quietly Met With L.A. County Agency Months Ago (Via Now Retired Fire Chief) About Process For Cutting LBFD Paramedics From Two On Responding Apparatus To One Paramedic Plus A Lesser-Trained/Less Expensive "Emergency Medical Technician"


(July 11, 2012, 5:10 p.m.) -- has learned that Long Beach city management has quietly approached the Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency (which coordinates emergency services countywide) about the possibility of Long Beach cutting its number of paramedics on a responding apparatus from two to one, replacing one of the paramedics with a lesser-trained Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) as a cost-saving measure.

Paramedics have roughly 600 hours of training, a higher level of medical knowledge with a broader scope of practice than EMTs who have about 120-160 hours of class. For decades, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors has required cities to have a two-paramedic system to participate in the countywide Advanced Life Support system, ensuring that two paramedics respond on whatever apparatus brings paramedics to a patient.

Other parts in California have a "1 and 1 system," where instead of having two paramedics respond on an apparatus, one paramedic and an EMT respond. has learned that in or about April 2012, Long Beach city management approached the L.A. County Emergency Medical Services Agency to discuss the process by which the City could implement a "1 and 1" system. The matter reached the level of a meeting between then-LB Fire Chief Alan Patalano and L.A. County Emergency Medical Services Agency staff, including agency Director Dr. Alan Koenig, MD, to discuss the matter. [We believe LBFD Chief Patalano also retired in April].

When a similar cut in paramedic staffing was proposed by the City of Los Angeles in roughly 1997, it created sufficient controversy to prompt L.A. City Hall to withdraw it.

Each County has an EMS agency that oversees the policies and procedures that fire departments, ambulances, paramedics and EMTs follow. The L.A. County Emergency Medical Services Agency has a framework in place for a pilot program to test a "1 and 1" model, but to date no L.A. County city has moved to test it on its residents. Long Beach is L.A. County's second largest city (behind Los Angeles).

To's knowledge, cutting LBFD's responses from two paramedics on an apparatus to one paramedic and an EMT hasn't been discussed publicly to date or brought to the Long Beach City Council for its consideration or approval.

The next step, if there is to be one, would be for the City of Long Beach to submit its plan in writing (as a "pilot" project)...which to our knowledge the City hasn't done at this point (July 11). An L.A. County Emergency Medical Services Commission would then hear the proposal, take public input and discuss the matter before making recommendations on the policy. is interested in knowing our readers' responses to this. Let us know via Facebook or Disqus comments below.

Developing...with further as we learn it on

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