Residents experience life-saving benefits of AF&R’s Paramedic Membership Program


About four years ago, longtime Anaheim resident Clark McDermed had a heart attack – only he didn’t know it.

He’d taken a spill in the bathroom, and when he and his wife, Joan, were having trouble getting him up, she called 911. When the paramedics arrived and got him up, they also checked his blood pressure and realized it was more than a simple fall.

“One of them said, ‘You’re having a heart attack,’” said Joan, adding that her husband hadn’t planned to go to the hospital until he heard that. “He wasn’t in any pain.”

The couple has been subscribing to Anaheim Fire & Rescue’s Paramedic Membership Program since the program’s inception in 1985. For an annual $36 fee, Anaheim residents can receive paramedic services for free if they call 911 due to a medical emergency. The usual paramedic fee is $350 per call.

“It’s only $3 per month that you’re paying for this program,” said program coordinator AF&R Senior Office Specialist Claudia Morales. “It’s less than a Starbucks coffee.”

During their membership, Joan, 84, has required a paramedics response twice and Clark, 81, has needed them at least four times. The program has more than paid for itself for the couple considering that it would take a resident 10 years of subscribing (at $36 annually) to reach the $350 fee one single paramedics call would cost.

Joan said the paramedics always arrive quickly – within five minutes – and the medics are very careful when picking up her husband after a fall. Clark has a fistula in his arm used for dialysis that cannot be damaged, so care needs to be taken when he is lifted.

“They’re very good about it and they’re very strong,” she said, adding that her husband is a “big guy.”

Not only have the paramedics helped the couple when Clark has fallen (“He fell and he split his head open a couple of times,” Joan said), but they assisted her the first time she experienced atrial fibrillation. Since she suffers from heart disease and with her husband’s health issues, she’s grateful for the program.

“They saved his life,” said Joan.

Morales said the program protects members anywhere within Anaheim’s jurisdiction, including businesses and while driving in the city. Plus, non-residents would be covered when visiting a member’s home in case of an emergency. With a low annual fee and hundreds and maybe even thousands of dollars of potential cost savings, the program can give all residents peace of mind.

“I think it’s important for anybody to have it,” said Joan. “Even the younger generation, you never know what’s gonna happen.”

For more information about the program and details on how to sign up, click here