CLEVELAND, Ohio – The days of Cleveland paramedics hauling people to the hospital for minor ailments such as hemorrhoids and headaches are over.
At 7 a.m. today, Cleveland Emergency Medical Services will no longer serve as a hospital taxi for problems such as toothaches, boils and similar illnesses.
Callers with the most serious ailments, such as chest pains and trouble breathing, will still be treated before paramedics are dispatched on low-priority runs. Those lesser calls will not be dispatched until 10 ambulances become available and all life-threatening calls are finished.
Cleveland residents have been accustomed to paramedics coming whenever called. Paramedics and firefighters have dubbed the service “You call, we’ll haul” because very few calls have been refused since EMS formed in 1975.
“This is a huge step for Cleveland,” EMS Commissioner Ed Eckart said. “This is a step back from a long-standing culture in this city.”
The change is prompted, at least in part, by budget cuts. Cleveland is trying to close a projected $23 million budget gap in 2010.