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April 20, 2014

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Heated debate to follow embrace of controversial report on LV fire operations

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Christopher DeVargas

Las Vegas Fire and Rescue crews respond to a guest-room fire on the 22nd floor of the Golden Nugget downtown Thursday, March 15, 2012.

Updated Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013 | 5:55 p.m.

A contentious nine months await the city of Las Vegas as it debates whether to fully privatize its emergency medical services. The council discussed a December report on the fire department, which listed 23 recommendations to improve service and efficiency, at its Wednesday meeting.

The issue: A report completed by the International City/County Management Association examining Las Vegas Fire & Rescue made a number of recommendations for the council to consider, chief among them how to handle emergency medical services.

The vote: The report was accepted with a 6-0 vote, with Councilman Stavros Anthony absent.

What it means: After a brief presentation from members of the ICMA, the fire department, the fire union and American Medical Response, the city’s private ambulance provider, the council discussed how to begin implementing recommendations made in the report. Fire Chief Mike Myers said several of the 23 recommendations included in the report have been implemented, including an organizational restructuring and increased financial transparency.

The biggest issue facing the city is how to handle its emergency medical services, which are currently shared by the fire department and AMR, leading to a duplication of effort that costs the city millions of dollars annually.

The two leading options for the fire department are to go “all in” and handle emergency medical services entirely on its own or to turn over all operations to a private ambulance company, Myers said.

Within the next month, Myers said he plans to put together a committee of industry, medical and business professionals to discuss the pros and cons of the different approaches. He said he plans to report back to the council with a proposal within six to nine months.

“I’m not naïve — I know there will be a lot of political interest here,” Myers said.

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