Frequently Asked Questions

How are your ambulances staffed?

All of our ambulances are staffed with a minimum of one Paramedic and one Emergency Medical Technician. However, frequently we have two Paramedics assigned to an ambulance.

What is the difference between a Paramedic and an Emergency Medical Technician?

Emergency Medical Technicians receive a minimum of 306 hours of training to obtain their certification. They are trained to examine patients to determine the nature and extent of injury or illness, administer first aid and emergency basic life support, such as patient assessment, use of adjunctive breathing aids, administering oxygen, splinting, bleeding control and doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Paramedics receive all of the training and perform the tasks required of Emergency Medical Technicians plus more complex procedures such as inserting intravenous catheters, administering intravenous solutions, administering emergency medications, inserting advanced breathing-aid devices, using suction equipment, heart monitoring equipment, and defibrillators. Paramedic training is at a minimum 1090 hours above and beyond Emergency Medical Technician Training.

What type of ambulances do you operate?

Most of our fleet are what are referred to as Type III ambulances. Our Type III ambulances are based on a GMC 4500 and Mercedes Sprinter diesel chassis with an aluminum box ambulance module. We have Mercedes Sprinter diesel van ambulances in our fleet as well. To serve the special needs of the Oceano Dunes State Recreational Area and other inaccessible areas we have two 4-wheel-drive van ambulances that responds from our Arroyo Grande response station.

What type of equipment and supplies do your ambulances carry?

Our ambulances carry the most current emergency life saving equipment possible. We carry Zoll X-series cardiac monitor/defibrillators that have 12-lead EKG and pulse oximeter capability. We can provide oxygen therapy and emergency airway control through endotracheal intubation. Additionally, we carry medications to care for cardiac, allergic reaction and diabetic emergencies. Further, bandages, splints and spinal immobilization equipment are also on board.

How fast can I expect an ambulance to arrive at the scene of an emergency?

If the scene of emergency is within city limits we have an average response time of just over 5 minutes. In rural locations, we typically can be at your emergency in less than 15 minutes.

How are your ambulances dispatched to an emergency scene?

All ambulances in San Luis Obispo County are dispatched via radio through the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Dispatch Center.

What is the best way to request an ambulance to respond to an emergency?

The fastest way to get an ambulance to your location in an emergency is to dial 911.

Why do I occasionally see an ambulance parked along Highway 1 near Cuesta College or the summit of Highway 46 West?

In order to most effectively cover the county our ambulances move in between ambulance response areas as other ambulances respond to calls. If a response area is busy and without coverage, another ambulance will move to a more central location to assist with coverage until the ambulance normally responsible for coverage returns to the area.

How fast can the ambulance go with red lights and siren?

Generally speaking our ambulances will only be driven as fast as the road conditions and weather will safely allow. California state law allows ambulances to exceed the posted speed limit by 15 MPH. However, per our company policy, ambulances will not exceed 75 MPH on the highway.

Are there steps that I can take to make it easier for the ambulance to find the scene of an emergency?

The best way to for the ambulance to find your residence is to make sure that the numbers on your residence are displayed in such a way that they are clearly visible from the street. Ideally the numbers should be at least three inches in height, well lighted and in contrast against their mounting surface. If possible it helps to have someone stand out front of the residence or location and flag down the arriving ambulance.

What type of care can you provide on the way to the hospital?

In trauma situations, we can provide bleeding control, splinting, bandaging, spinal motion restriction, needle chest decompression for tension pneumothorax (collapsed lung), CPR, oxygen administration and intravenous therapy. If you were to have a medical complaint we can administer oxygen, monitor your oxygen level with a pulse oximeter, end-tidal CO2 detection, clear airway obstructions, monitor your EKG (electrocardiogram), cardiac defibrillation, synchronized cardioversion, diagnostic EKG (12-lead electrocardiogram) use advanced airways(endotracheal intubation), intravenous therapy, interosseous infusion, needle cricothyrotomy for complete airway blockage and administer medications for cardiac, diabetic, allergic reaction and respiratory emergencies.

Local policy regarding ambulance transportation destination is set by the San Luis Obispo County Emergency Medical Services Agency. According to this policy, if your medical condition is stable in the judgment of the Paramedic you may select a local hospital to be transported to. If the Paramedic believes that your medical condition is unstable, they are bound by local policy to transport you to the closest hospital.