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EMS a “Drain” on the fire service?

Most of you who read this a lot know that I look at certain blogs and websites daily. One of those websites is “TheBravestonline.com”.

It is a decent video site, and has a forum section for discussion, unfortunately the discussion is usually dominated by some pretty outrageous people. I have been following this thread http://thebravestonline.websitetoolbox.com/post?id=4890318 covering a news report out of Detroit Michigan. The report is basically criticizing the ambulance response times, and questioning the intelligence of the firefighters operating in an EMS capacity.

While reading some of the comments in the forums I came across this post from a Gary Indiana firefighter “Saddest thing is people are saying “good job” to the EMS chief, hes anti-union and a “yes man” for mayor Bing. I’m not saying that the reporter Charlie LeDuff is a good person, he did offer to pay for GPS units and the EMS “chief” gave some political BS line.

 My department is pretty much broke and turned over all the non-ALS runs to a private run ambulance company, it’s made life much easier! Hell we lost our only Squad & one of our Trucks to an accident. EMS is a huge drain on a FD, in this economy there’s no room for “sick cases”.

For those of you that do not know Gary is a lot like Detroit, a very poor city were everyone is barely scrapping by. I have heard stories of guys buying their own turnout gear because the city did not have the money to replace it. Make no mistake about it either they see a lot of arson fires are very busy and are in a very bad working situation.

What really stuck out in his comments was the part about EMS is a huge drain on the fire department. Now I am not the biggest EMS fan, I do it and try to do it very well because it is my job and I want to be good at all aspects of my job. With that being said I do not think that it is a drain on the fire department in general. Sure in Gary, Detroit, and other similar cities they may not run as many “emergencies” as I do, but when they go out the door it is usually a fire, or significant call of some sort, and well here lets just say out of the 13 calls I ran last shift only about 5 of them really needed our intervention.

With all that being said a lot of fire departments would be shut down if it was not for EMS. If my department decided to give up EMS, or even just run the ALS calls we could not survive. The reason I was hired was for EMS (the department was adding the 10th ambulance at the time, now we are up to 14 and probably adding another one very soon) so I owe my job to all of those “BS” runs that come in every day. Some departments even charge for EMS service and depend on the money coming in just to survive. Other departments that have not embraced EMS are constantly going through rotating company closings, and hiring only to fill retirement voids.

So while I do not think EMS is a drain on the fire department, I will admit to it being a drain on the individual firefighter. I have been on the ambulance for 24 hours and we never saw the station, I try to keep this professional so I can not type the words that I was feeling on a couple of those days. I have been cussed at, spit at, swung at, and just about everything under the son and I was there to help. So again I can see how it affects the firefighter especially if its been a long time in between fires.

So that’s my take, I want to know what you think. Is EMS a drain on your fire department? Or is it vital to your survival? Leave some feedback in the comments section, and of course spread the word about the blog.

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