Ambulance Service Acquisition
Marion County Fire Rescue (MCFR) became the countywide ambulance
transport provider on October 1, 2008, when the former ambulance
service, known as the Emergency Medical Services Alliance (EMSA),
Due to tough economic times, the EMSA partners declined to renew the
five-year ambulance agreement, initiated in 2003, and their financial
commitment to the service. As a result, Marion County Commissioners
tasked MCFR with adding ambulance transport to its growing mission.
With less than a year to plan, MCFR and county leaders established an
operational plan, organizational structure, job descriptions and pay
grades. This plan added 237 new positions, significantly increasing the
number of ambulances ready to respond and enhancing the quality of the
Now, MCFR employs more than 600 professionals as the second largest
Florida fire rescue department north of Orlando.
Service Transition Chronology
October 1, 2003: EMSA formed as a five-year partnership among
Marion County, the city of Ocala, Munroe Regional Medical Center and
Ocala Regional Medical Center.
April, 2007: Marion County Commissioner Charlie Stone appointed a
five-member citizen task force to study various ambulance models,
anticipating that the three EMSA partners would not renew the original
agreement when it expired September 30, 2008.
January 22, 2008: Commissioners voted to provide countywide ambulance
service through MCFR and directed the county administrator to form a
transition team. Commissioner Barbara Fitos became the board liaison on
the transition team.
18, 2008: Commissioners approved MCFR's initial ambulance plan, which
included an organizational structure and deployment model.
April - August, 2008: Marion County leaders and employees hosted
the largest hiring process in county history, posting 237 positions and
interviewing nearly 500 applicants.
June 19, 2008: The Florida Public Relations Association Ocala
Chapter named MCFR the 2008 "Communicator of the Year" for its ambulance
September 2, 2008: To ensure a smooth transition, MCFR had eight
fire rescue ambulances in service at various fire stations throughout
September 23, 2008: Under the direction of Public Safety
Communications Director Karl Oltz, 13 fire rescue dispatchers and 13
ambulance service dispatchers united, logging more than 1,200 training
October 1, 2008: MCFR started providing ambulance service to all
Marion County citizens, including those living in Belleview, Dunnellon,
McIntosh, Reddick and the city of Ocala. The ambulance deployment
immediately increased the level of service during both peak and non-peak
All MCFR firefighters are dual-certified professionals, meaning they're
not just firefighters. They are also state certified paramedics or
emergency medical technicians (EMTs).
These men and women strive to provide citizens with a high level of
emergency medical care, offering an immediate and uninterrupted level of
service from the field to the hospital.
MCFR is so committed to the EMS mission that the department's new EMTs
sign a contract that requires them to become paramedics within five
years of their hire date. This training includes an additional year of
extensive schooling and training.
Even when MCFR paramedics pass their state certification exam, they
undergo additional training and testing. They are required to ride-along
with a senior paramedic for 240 hours (or ten 24-hour shifts), train in
the emergency room and undergo extensive interviews with Marion County's
Medical Director, Dr. Frank Fraunfelter.
MCFR has provided advanced life support service since 1994. This ALS
status and license enables MCFR paramedics to serve as an extension of
the emergency room physician and administer life-saving medications and
procedures in the field and on the way to the hospital.