Beginning a Measured Implementation Plan
CLEVELAND, OHIO, MAYOR FRANK JACKSON announced at a press conference Tuesday that the city has begun a plan to merge the Cleveland EMS agency into the Fire Department and create a new agency, the Division of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Medical Service that will be fully integrated by the end of 2012. The first step announced yesterday is the appointment of the current EMS director Edward Eckart as the assistant director of public safety with the responsibility of handling the details of the merging of 800 firefighters and 240 EMS employees into the new agency.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer further reports:
As envisioned, the combined force would respond as a single unit to emergencies, with firefighters trained as paramedics and vice versa.
So ideally, "whoever responds, that person can do whatever needs to be done to mitigate your emergency," Eckart said. "By bringing the two together we'll have a lot more flexibility, reduce redundancy and be a lot more effective in dealing with all types of emergencies."
(Mayor Jackson) said overall goals of the new integrated department will be improved service and shorter emergency-response times. "Our prediction is that the response time will go down dramatically," he noted. Jackson said that improved response time will result from medical treatment dispatched as part of crews from the city's neighborhood fire stations, and administered as soon as responders arrive on the scene, instead of waiting for an EMS ambulance.
Jackson said he has asked that the integration be "budget neutral," with no additional costs involved. He added, "our goal is budget neutral, but that is not the driving force. The bottom line is service, not profit."
WEWS-TV Ch. 8 covered the press conference yesterday and filed this video report:
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