Anchorage Fire, public transit departments look to plan B after Prop 2 fails
Just after 2 p.m. Thursday, every ambulance except the one in Eagle River was responding to 911 calls.
It’s illustrative of the Anchorage Fire Department’s need for more ambulances, says Chief Denis LeBlanc.
“The demand for ambulance services has grown tremendously,” he said. “Twenty-seven percent increase over the past five years.”
LeBlanc says he was disappointed by the outcome of Tuesday’s election. The majority of voters said no to Proposition 2, which would’ve allowed the department to purchase and staff two permanent ambulances. Currently, AFD has nine units, plus two on loan.
“Simply because the proposition was not approved on Tuesday night doesn’t mean that Wednesday morning we have 20 percent less people calling 9-1-1,” LeBlanc noted.
Now, LeBlanc is looking at plan b — which, at the moment includes trying to keep the two loaned ambulances up and running.
“All entities are getting together to discuss options,” said LeBlanc. “How can we best provide the demanded service to the community at some sort of cost, because now that the bond has failed I don’t have that money.”
Also looking into its own plan B is the muni’s public transportation department, which oversees People Mover and Anchor Rides. Prop 2 would’ve provided a 20 percent match to federal funds for new buses and upgrades to its bus storage depot. Abul Hassan, the department’s director, called Tuesday’s outcome “a disappointment.”
The roof of the depot, which houses the People Mover buses and the Anchor Rides vehicles, is 30 years old and is leaking in multiple places. Water has built up in the grates, which are supposed to drain the water, dust and silt from the buses.
“There is a level of expectation at a federal level for us to do a level of upkeep,” said Hassan. “So what that means is when you’ve gone out and built facilities with federal money, you are required to maintain the specification.”
But because he won’t see those match funds from Prop 2, it’s “back to the drawing board,” he says, so the department can continue to give 4 million bus rides a year.
LeBlanc says for any one of the people in Anchorage who could one day need an ambulance, there’s no data to suggest the number of 911 calls will decrease anytime soon. And there’s currently no longterm plan in place to service them.
The post Anchorage Fire, public transit departments look to plan B after Prop 2 fails appeared first on KTVA 11.