Boston Health Commission Halts Bill to Add Firefighters on EMS Calls

Dr. Barbara Ferrer says fire apparatus could impede the transport of patients


 
 

RICHARD WEIR, The Boston Herald | | Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Boston firefighter union bosses - after getting shot down by the City Council last year on a bid to expand their duties - now are looking to Beacon Hill to override city policy and get sent on 911 calls for stabbings, shootings and overdoses, a role city watchdogs say is best left to Emergency Medical Services technicians.

'The EMS EMTs are the best trained to respond to those kinds of calls,' said Sam Tyler of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau. 'I don't think there is any need to change that at this point in time.'

State Rep. Nick Collins filed a bill on behalf of the city's fire union this week to authorize new duties that he said could save lives. He said Boston's 1,478 firefighters - 950 of whom have EMT certifications and already are authorized to respond to car crashes, cardiac arrests and other 'Priority 1' 911 calls - are strategically located in city neighborhoods and respond to most calls in under four minutes, while the EMS average response time for 'Priority 1' calls last year was 5.7 minutes.

'It's about who can get there fastest,' said Collins (D-South Boston), noting firefighters could help stabilize victims by controlling bleeding, providing oxygen and giving anti-overdose drugs until EMS ambulances arrive. 'Victims don't care what uniform they have on.'

But Dr. Barbara Ferrer of the Boston Public Health Commission, which oversees EMS, blasted the bill, saying large fire trucks and extra staff at stabbings and shootings could impede rushing critically wounded victims to hospitals. 'The name of the game is load and go,' Ferrer said. 'We need easy access to a patient, and getting them in and out quickly.'

Collins' bill comes as fire departments are 'morphing from fighting fires to responding to medical emergencies,' said Gregory Sullivan, a former state inspector general who is now research director at the Pioneer Institute. 'It's a fight over turf.'

BFD reports that multiple-alarm fires dropped from 417 in 1975 to 40 in 2012. Meanwhile, 47 percent of the 72,259 runs firefighters made last year were for medical emergencies or rescues, and fewer than 8 percent for fires.

Calls to Richard Paris, head of Firefighters Local 718, were not returned yesterday.

Collins and the fire union face strong opposition not just from EMS Chief Jim Hooley, Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis and Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser - all of whom said yesterday they oppose the measure - but even from like-minded politicians.

City Council President Stephen J. Murphy, who sponsored a similar proposal last November that died after a two-hour-long public safety hearing, said: 'You can't legislate from Beacon Hill on how to run a city. We vetted it pretty well but it fell on the merits. I still think it's a good idea.'

Police Superintendent William Evans testified on Murphy's measure that his officers also can provide first aid, and having fire crews traipsing over crime scenes could contaminate evidence.

Mobile Category: 
News


Copyright © 2013 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, Boston EMS

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

The Evolution of Civilian High Threat Medical Guidelines

How mass killing events have proven a need for new guidelines.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Kentucky Firefighters, Medics Drill for Ebola

Lexington firefighters and medics prepare for possible patients.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Mid-South EMTs Prepare for Ebola

Mid-South EMTs are certified for service.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Ebola Changes How North Carolina EMS Responds to Calls

Concern about virus spread leads to new protocols.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Oklahoma Hospitals Prepare for Ebola Cases

Training and preparation are keys for metro hospitals.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Life Link III Trauma Tactics Conference in Minnesota

Conference was designed to enhance the skills of providers of all levels, covering rescue and prehospital situations, to transport and in-hospital treatment.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

EMS Tailgating

Rigs converted for football.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

CDC Ebola Training for Clinicians

Students learn the complexities of working in bulky suits.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >