Firefighters Union Local 22 staged a press conference on Wednesday and appeared at a civil service hearing this morning to voice their concerns over an administration plan to remove one paramedic from every medic unit in the city and replace them with less-qualified EMTs.
Joe Schulle, president of the union, explained to the Civil Service Commissioners, â€œParamedics must graduate an intense two-year training program. EMTs only need to attend a 10-week training course.â€
He noted the Cityâ€™s cost-cutting move, achieved by a lower pay scale for EMTs, will make the cityâ€™s residents â€“ especially the elderly â€“ less safe. This change in the staffing of medic units does not require the approval of City Council.
Councilman Jim Kenney has advised Schulle he will introduce legislative initiatives to prevent the Cityâ€™s plan from being enacted.
Schulle advised the Commission national safety standards recommend two paramedics and two EMTs respond to all Advance Life Support dispatch assignments. He mentioned the American Heart Association said, â€œIn those systems that have attained survival rates higher than 20% for patients with ventricular fibrillation, response teams included as a minimum, two ALS providers and 2 BLS providers.â€
The City claims there is no reduction in care because two people will be on scene and a paramedic will be on scene more often.
Schulleâ€™s response is that â€œon critical emergencies, one paramedics is not enough to give adequate care to the patient. In a cardiac arrest, for instance, multiple equally important medical interventions must be given simultaneously. On these critical calls, equipment needs to be monitored and the medical command doctor maybe contacted. Those functions need to be done by the second paramedic, trained to do so.â€
He added, â€œThe initial actions performed in the emergency rooms are nearly identical to the care provided by the paramedics on the street. One paramedic cannot accomplish all of the medical interventions needed simultaneously.â€
Three members of the administrationÂ also held a press conference following that of the Firefighters to explain the proposed deployment model they were advocating for City paramedics and emergency medical technical.Â Holding the conference were Michael Resnick, Director of Public Safety; David Gallagher, Deputy Commissioner, EMS, and Derrick Sawyer, Deputy Fire Commissioner of Operations.Â