Show Low EMS

Arrowhead Fire and Medical Authority, formerly known as Arrowhead Mobile Healthcare (d.b.a. Show Low EMS) was approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission and the Arizona Department of Health Services earlier this year. The vehicle pictured is a Type 3 wildland fire engine which is primarily used for urban interface (where the forest meets the city).

SHOW LOW — Arrowhead Mobile Healthcare, an ambulance services company operating in Lakeside, Show Low and Linden since 2000, recently changed its company name to Arrowhead Fire and Medical Authority. This change was completed this spring through the Arizona Corporation Commission and then finalized this May with the Arizona Department of Health Services (AzDHS).

But isn’t the only change underway for the company, which is seeking new sources of revenue.

The private ambulance company was the only provider in Show Low for 18 years. That was until August 2018 when the Arizona Department of Health Services ruled in favor of Timber Mesa’s application for an overlapping certification of need (CON) for Show Low, Linden and some surrounding areas.

After a series of legal challenges and intervening motions by Show Low EMS (now Arrowhead Fire & Medical Authority), the case was escalated to Maricopa County Superior Court.

The court has not yet issued a ruling in the case.

However, Arrowhead and Timber Mesa Fire have continued to provide overlapping ambulance service in the areas of Show Low, Linden, Clay Springs, Vernon and some surrounding areas like White Mountain Lake.

Show Low EMS is now Arrowhead - ambulance picture

An Arrowhead Fire & Medical Authority truck with the new company name and logo. The vehicle pictured is a medium duty ambulance which is larger than a typical ambulance. It is also a critical care and bariatric ambulance which has a larger patient compartment. The private ambulance company has two medium duty ambulances like the one pictured, in addition eight others that can be staffed if needed.

In addition to the name change, Arrowhead announced its vision to expand its services to include wildland fire emergency medical services (EMS) support and suppression. A June 13 press release from Arrowhead Fire and Medical Authority Assistant Chief Anthony Kugler and CEO Jim Broome lays out the company’s future plans.

Jim Broome

Jim Broome, CEO of Show Low EMS, which have provided ambulance transport services in Show Low, Linden and some surrounding areas since 2000. In August, the Department of Health Services awarded Timber Mesa Fire & Medical District an expanded service area which overlaps Show Low EMS. As a result, the private ambulance company is pursuing reversal of the decision through Maricopa County Superior Court.

“We were a powerful force from the mid 1990’s until 2009, providing wildland firefighters and EMS personnel to many fires throughout Arizona,” states Broome.

“In 2009, when the reimbursement for services took a dive, we exited the program; however, most of those problems have now been resolved and we have a new state forester,” he adds. “We’re currently wrapping up some training and our first Type 3 Engine is operational with plans to add two Type 6 Engines to our fleet. These engines will be used for response to wildland fires as a state or federal requested resource as well as requests from insurance companies to protect homes as the fire reaches the urban interface as we saw in California last year.”

In addition to fire response, Arrowhead’s Assistant Chief Anthony Kugler says the company is “being proactive” by creating a Wildland Defense Unit.

“Our firefighters will come out to your home and discuss possible solutions for protecting your home during the wildland fire season like treating your home and property with an environmentally friendly long term fire retardant,” further explains Kugler.

Arrowhead company history

The company, based in Benson, was originally named Arrowhead Mobile Healthcare. After expanding to Show Low in 2000, the ambulance provider has maintained operations in both cities.

“We have been planning to merge our southern operation in Benson with our northeastern Arizona operation in Show Low,” informs Kugler. “We realized there could be benefits to merging the southern Arizona and northeastern Arizona operations. All of these years we’ve had to keep separate insurances, separate offices, etc. Better insurance for our employees, better ambulances and being able to move personnel between Benson and Show Low when needed are a few benefits to merging the two operations.”

Kugler also pointed out that the off-seasons for Benson and Show Low are “polar opposites” which makes moving personnel a great way to maximize their workforce.

“During the off-season we may run our engine in support of our ambulances on serious accidents or medical calls that require more people and equipment than a normal ambulance has on board,” says Kugler.

The final approach

Although the private ambulance company and Timber Mesa Fire and Medical District provide ambulance service in overlapping areas, neither shows signs of letting off the gas when it comes to growth and adapting to community needs.

“Our press release is the intent, the outlook and the vision of Arrowhead,” said Kugler in a phone interview with the Independent on June 17. “We want to look at options that may infuse revenue into the district and ease the burden on the taxpayers.”

It’s no secret that Arrowhead pays close attention to what Timber Mesa Fire and Medical District does, what they spend and how they grow. This includes special attention to Timber Mesa’s recent merger with White Mountain Lake Fire Department and consideration of a future bond election for capital needs.

“It may be too late this year, but I would like to approach the Timber Mesa Fire Board about a contract to operate the district’s services,” says Kugler.

“It doesn’t take a million dollars a month to handle a handful of structure fires a year in this small community. In fact there is a private fire department in Arizona that has been very progressive in managing fire districts, as well as serving county areas where there are no fire districts, and we would model our proposal after their operations.”

Reach the reporter at lsingleton@wmicentral.com

Laura Singleton is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering Show Low city government, business and education.

(1) comment

longtimeresident

I don't like paying any more in taxes than anyone else but there is false economy to some private fire companies. I paid into a subscription fire protection plan (in the Tucson Area) so I thought I was covered. The one time I needed their service they did arrive in 10 minutes or so but with an understaffed fire truck so they could not charge their lines to fight the fire. As I was told later (due to staffing issues) they had to wait for an additional engine to arrive so they could safely fight the fire. It took 45 minutes for the second rig to arrive and by then all they did was put water on the burned out remains.

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