Historic Ambulance Service Acquisition
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 ambulance service.
Ambulance Service Transition Chronology
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 Sept. 30, 2008.
Jan. 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.
March 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 transition initiatives.
Sept. 2, 2008: To ensure a smooth transition, MCFR had eight fire rescue ambulances in service at various fire stations throughout county.
Sept. 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 hours.
Oct. 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 hours.
Advanced Life Support (ALS)
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.