Lawton City Council discusses plans for fire department's ambulances

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - The future plans for the ambulances purchased by the Lawton Fire Department, were discussed at the Lawton City Council meeting on Tuesday night.

Ward 5 city councilman Caleb Davis put the item on the agenda because he wanted to understand the plans for the ambulances. He said when the council originally approved the item, it stated specifically the ambulances were for firefighters, but Davis said he has since heard otherwise.

"I want the citizens to be made fully aware of why we have the ambulances and if the plan is to try to get into the ambulance service business, which would cost a lot of money, or is it just to respond to and only to respond for our fire fighter's safety?"

At the meeting, Fire Chief Dewayne Burk said they're trying to make a slow move to provide service to the private sector. Chief Burk said getting these ambulances, and potentially taking calls, is a project that's been passed down through a couple chiefs.

"And so we have steadily increased our training and the things like EMT, advanced EMT, and several paramedics," said Chief Burk.

He said last year they had 451 times where an ambulance wasn't available, and they need to figure out a way to assist them or do a better job providing that service. Councilman Davis is worried that it will force an established business out and then not be able to cover the city.

"What would we have to do," Davis asked. "That's what every other city has done. [They] put $5, $6, $7, $8 a month on everybody's water bill, buy a bunch of ambulances, hire 10 to 15 more firefighters and go into the ambulance service."

Councilman Jay Burk chimed in during the discussion and said it's concerning to know that services weren't available that many times. He said they're not looking to put anyone out of business.

"Nobody can be put out of business as long as they're providing the services needed by the citizens of Lawton," Councilman Burk said.

As it stands, the fire department ambulances are only there for firefighters. They can't transport firefighters or patients without getting a license to do so and that would have to be approved by the city council.

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