The Long Beach Fire Department operates three ambulances, Kemins said, and also receives assistance from nearby departments. Kemins said that turnaround times have strained the department’s resources, and that it can take an ambulance two hours to transport a patient to another facility and return to Long Beach, compared with the 15 minutes it took when LBMC was operational.
“We have obviously a limited amount of ambulances … and we need to evaluate how we are providing emergency services to see how we can do it better,” Kemins said. “[The consultants] might come up with very good solutions.”
And even if SNCH opens an urgent-care center at the site, Kemins said, the department would still have to transport certain patients — trauma and burn victims and some cardiac patients — to other facilities.
“They can’t accept all ambulances — there will be times when New York state will come out with protocols for what type of patients we can bring to the free-standing emergency department,” Kemins said. “At the end of the day, all of our resources are being tied up for a longer period of time, which isn’t the right thing for our residents.”
Kemins and other officials said that they are hoping the Washington consultants can help provide solutions and options for the city’s firefighters, police officers and lifeguards without the hospital, and how the city should proceed if an emergency department returns to the facility — or it fails to reopen entirely.
“I assume they’re going to look at all the possibilities,” Kemins said. “… [A]t the end of the day we’re looking for the best possible service for residents.”