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LAFD considers plan to beef up ambulance service for flu season

The LAFD is looking at ways to beef up ambulance service for the flu season
Fire officials in Los Angeles are considering a plan to beef up ambulance service to deal with expected increases in the number of patients who need to be transported to hospitals if the flu virus wreaks havoc across the region.

Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have warned that the flu season started early this year, signaling that it could be a bad season for the illness. 

In the Los Angeles region, the virus could hit its peak in February and result in more people calling 911 for help, officials said. More people at hospitals could also result in ambulances being out of service longer while rescue crews wait for patients to be admitted.

The Los Angeles Fire Department is looking at ways to provide up to six more ambulances during peak transport periods, which are normally between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m., said Deputy Chief David Yamahata.

"We're gearing up for that potential," he told The Times. 

To provide personnel for the ambulances, the LAFD may temporarily close some of its light forces, which have six firefighters assigned to an aerial ladder truck and a pumper truck. 

Two of those firefighters would staff each reserve ambulance, Yamhata said, and the others would be stationed on fire engines. The light forces would go back in service when the ambulances are shut down for the night.

"We just have to determine at what threshold we would pull the trigger," said Yamahata, who oversees emergency operations for the department.

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— Robert J. Lopez

twitter.com/LAJourno

Photo: A Los Angeles Fire Department ambulance on skid row in 2009. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times
 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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