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City Fire Chief to Retire Amid EMS Uproar

Emergency medical service is a medical service, not a public safety one, the head of emergency medical services in Richmond, Va., told those in the metro area who offer such services and those with a stake in the services.

Jerry Overton said the trends for emergency medical services nationwide will force providers to cut costs by handling some cases without taking people to the hospital.

He said it was crucial for communities to set aside turf battles. However, he made no reference in his presentation to the medical services that are a central part of the job firefighters do, which are at the heart of a quiet debate in Cedar Rapids.

When asked, Overton said Richmond firefighters respond to medical calls, but he said they are public safety personnel who fight fires first.

Area Ambulance Service sponsored the Wednesday event at the Marriott Hotel.

Keith Rippey, the service's executive director, said a study of the Cedar Rapids area's emergency management landscape is expected to be completed in May.

That study is expected to comment on any overlap in the service provided by Area Ambulance Service and Cedar Rapids firefighters.

Cedar Rapids Fire Chief Steve Havlik and city Finance Director Casey Drew were among those who attended.

Contact the writer: (319) 398-8312 or rick.smith@gazettecommunications.com

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