For years, most of the Santa Fe Fire Department’s work has not been fighting fires but delivering emergency medical services. It’s finally working on a long-awaited reorganization to better reflect that.
When Fire Chief Paul Babcock took over the department in the fall, he made it a priority to create a new EMS division alongside the operations and support services divisions. He is in budget discussions to fill out staffing to oversee emergency response, training and data management, as well as outreach and diversion services to some of the city’s most vulnerable residents.
The division’s head, Assistant Chief Greg Cliburn, started with the department as a firefighter/EMT in 1998, and became the medical officer in 2014.
“Our call volume has gone up. The health-care system locally has become richer and more complex,” Cliburn said. “I’m excited. I’ve advocated for this pretty much throughout my time as the medical officer.”
Cliburn says the number of calls for service has risen from about 8,000 a year two decades ago to about 16,000 a year now.