Career staffing at the Charlottesville Albemarle Rescue Squad




Update on status of CARS/Albemarle County Fire Rescue jointly staffed ALS ambulance




Tucker, Foley, Davis, Eggleston







February 1, 2006


ACTION:     x                             INFORMATION:   



  ACTION:                                INFORMATION:   











During the July 7, 2004 day meeting, the Board approved hiring three Fire fighter/ALS personnel ahead of the Northern Fire Rescue station opening to help staff a Charlottesville Albemarle Rescue Squad (CARS) ambulance. The purpose of the staffing initiative was to help train newly certified Fire Rescue career personnel and to provide an additional staffed ambulance that would be used to help reduce response times in the 29 North Corridor.


During the early stages of implementation, CARS agreed to supply a daytime driver which enabled Fire Rescue to reallocate one newly hired Fire fighter/ALS staff to Stony Point to help solve a staffing need. The Board approved the staff reallocation during the October 6, 2004 meeting.


In late 2004, the two Fire fighter/ALS personnel were assigned to CARS and the joint staffing arrangement began. The staffing for the ambulance consisted of a CARS driver and one senior Fire fighter/ALS staff from Albemarle County Fire Rescue to serve as an ďALS preceptorĒ for Fire Rescue trainee rotations.


The CARS staffing arrangement has created a positive working environment encompassing a high volume EMS agency and an excellent operational structure, which has produced well trained and prepared ALS providers for the Fire Rescue system. To date, the arrangement has trained 13 Fire fighter/ALS staff and has allowed the department to staff the majority of career staffed apparatus around the County with advanced life support personnel.


With CARSís annual call load exceeding 12,000 incidents per year combined with limited availability of daytime volunteer personnel, the CARS/Fire Rescue staffed ambulance has over time become an integral and now indispensable component of CARSí daily operations.  Often times, the CARS/Fire Rescue staffed ambulance is the only advanced life support staffed ambulance for nearly two-thirds of the County during daylight hours. The volume of calls for the CARS/Fire Rescue staffed ambulance is frequently ten or more per shift with about 75 percent of the calls occurring within Albemarle County.  

Initially, the CARS/Fire Rescue staffed ambulance was deployed from the CARS Berkmar sub-station with the  purpose of improving response times to the 29 North Corridor.  However, due to the high volume of emergency calls for service within the urban area and other areas of the County covered by CARS, the staffed ambulance at Berkmar is often repositioned to the McIntire Station. The McIntire station location enables CARS to quickly reach the majority of the countyís urban ring emergencies; however, the CARS/Fire Rescue staffed ambulance at the McIntire station cannot help to reduce the response times to the 29 North Corridor.


Staff and CARS recently discussed the need to re-deploy the CARS/Fire Rescue staffed ambulance closer to the northern portion of the County (Hollymead PDA and surrounding areas) in order to reduce response times in the 29 North Corridor (the current ambulance response time in the Hollymead PDA is 13 minute on average). However, the issue has raised serious concerns. It is likely that re-deploying the CARS/Fire Rescue staffed ambulance closer to the northern portion of the County would in turn increase the response times within the higher call volume county urban area due to limited daytime volunteer staffing at the McIntire Station. Therefore, CARS is requesting that the County continue to provide daytime staffing and expand the daily staffing from 4 days per week to 5 days per week.


Staff is bringing this issue forward at this time because the initiative was originally approved in part to help reduce response times in the 29 North Corridor.



Goal 3.1:  Make the County a safe and healthy community in which citizens feel secure to live, work and play.




Staff supports providing staffing at the CARS McIntire station B. However, there is a cost sharing issue associated with the proposal.  During the daytime hours, approximately 25 percent of the calls made by a CARS/Fire Rescue staffed ambulance at the McIntire station are in the City of Charlottesville. Therefore, staff is recommending that the County fund only a percentage of costs associated with the staffing initiative (staff estimates at this time to be a 75 percent county funding based on county/city call volume of this jointly staffed ambulance). The remainder of the funding will be deducted from the CARSís annual county budget allocation while CARS works with the City for consideration of funding. Staff has discussed the funding issue with CARS and have reached an agreement on the aforementioned funding strategy.


Staff believes there are two options for the Board to consider:


Option 1

Continue to provide two Fire fighter/ALS personnel and add one additional personnel to staff an ambulance 5 days per week, 12 hours per day at a net annual County cost of $154,500. County to fund the costs associated with the staffing based on a predetermined formula (currently estimated at 75 percent of the cost of the personnel based on county/city call volume).

Budget Impact:

         $26,500 in initial additional funds with an overall reoccurring expense of $154,500 annually


The annual cost of placing three staff at CARS is $206,000 per year.  Based on an estimated 75/25 funding split, the initiative will cost the County $154,500 annually (75% of the $206,000 annual cost of providing three staff at CARS).  Because $128,000 is currently budgeted for the staff already in place, this proposal will cost the County $26,500 in additional funds until staff for the Northern Station are hired.


         $128,000 annually when the staff are hired for the Northern Fire Rescue Station


The two Fire fighter/ALS staff currently assigned to CARS were originally hired in FY05/06 to help staff the Northern Fire Rescue Station. If Option 1 is selected, the cost of hiring two additional staff for the Northern Fire Rescue Station to replace the two original staff moved to CARS will be $128,000 annually.


Option 2

Move the staffing up to the 29 North Corridor as planned, either now or when the Northern Station opens in July 2007.

Budget Impact:

         No budget impact



Because this item has significant budget implications and proposals related to the staffing of the Northern Fire Rescue Station are also important to consider in making a decision, staff recommends that no action be taken at this time regarding funding.  This item was brought to the Boardís attention because we are currently unable to improve call response in the 29 North Corridor as originally intended without moving the ambulance from its current McIntire location.  However, because of the current higher call load in the Countyís urban area around the City, and the challenge of maintaining adequate daytime volunteer assistance in this area, staff recommends that this ambulance continue to run out of the McIntire Station until the Board can consider this issue during the upcoming budget process.


 View Attachment A - Letter from C-A Rescue Squad

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