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City proposes swapping a paramedic for an EMT in ambulances

Firefighters union says new plan will decrease level of care. City says it will be a better use of resources.

Credit: Wiki Commons Credit: Wiki Commons

The firefighters union and the city are at odds over distribution of Emergency Medical Services resources.

The Nutter administration will introduce a new plan at the Civil Service hearing Wednesday to remove one paramedic from every medic unit and replace them with an EMT.

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Philadelphia Firefighters and Paramedics Union Local 22 officials called it a cost-cutting move. Joe Schulle, president of Local 22, said paramedics must graduate an intense two-year training program. EMTs only need to attend a 10-week training course.

David Gallagher, deputy commissioner of the city's EMS, said the change over is part of a new deployment plan designed to spread out the city's resources. He said five SUVs will be helmed by supervisors that can be used as floating backup.

Mayor's office spokesman Mark McDonald said state law does not require two paramedics in a unit."When Schulle complains about this as a city cost-saving mechanism, I would point out that the firefighters union members get overtime for serving as EMTs on the medic units [about 35 percent of all medic runs are paramedic/EMT teams] and very often the firefighter who replaces the EMT on the engine or ladder is also getting OT. So, in many instances when a firefighter EMT is serving on a medic unit, there are TWO instances of OT being paid."

The firefighters union claims the move will spread the city's resources too thin.

The tie-up,Gallagher said, is that the fire unions want another paramedic on the fire engines, while the EMS wants to put four supervisors and a captain in the SUVs first.

"There's far less wear and tear on an SUV than on a $2.4 million ladder truck," he said.City

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