Photo via of Wikimedia.

Photo via of Wikimedia.

The District of Columbia's fire agency has contracted with private ambulance provider American Medical Response (AMR) for patients whose injuries or illnesses are not time sensitive or life threatening.

The DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department (DCFEMS) is shifting its resources to focus on only critical calls. AMR will operate and maintain 29 private ambulances in the district. The company said it could provide 25 of those units for high-volume-call periods from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.

In September, NBC Washington reported that the agency was being swamped with low-priority 911 calls that caused havoc with the agency's aging ambulance fleet. The city was able to deploy 39 ambulances during peak times, and said it planned to add more rigs so it could reach a deployment level of 49 ambulances.

DCFEMS will arrive first to all 911 calls for pre-hospital medical care. DCFEMS personnel will evaluate the patient to determine the level of medical care and resources required, including how the patient will be transported to the hospital. In February, DCFEMS transported more than 9,000 patients to area hospitals.

Life-threatening or time-sensitive injuries or illnesses include cardiac or respiratory arrest, chest pain, heart attack, stroke, major trauma, unconsciousness, and any shock state or altered mental status.