Youngstown Fire Department ready to respond to medical calls, faces another hurdle

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The Youngstown Fire Department got the protocol it needed to respond to medical calls when ambulances aren’t available, but there’s still one hurdle to overcome first.

The Youngstown safety committee discussed this at its meeting on Thursday. Fire Chief Barry Finley said the department obtained the necessary protocol or “standing order” from Ravenna University Hospital.

“When you’re working on the streets as an emergency medical service provider, you have to operate under doctor’s orders, and protocol is doctor’s orders basically saying if you have this type of patient, here’s what you can do, if you have this type of situation, that’s what you can do,” Finley said.

Now that the department has the protocol, the firefighters’ union is requesting a change to their contract before performing these services. Finley says he understands why they want the change and agrees it should happen.

“It’s a change in working conditions…when we provide first responders, we should meet with them and we should negotiate,” he said.

However, his concern is the service provided in the meantime. Although there is a period when the union and firefighters can negotiate before their current contract ends next year, Finley says he doesn’t want residents to suffer in the meantime.

“I took an oath to protect this community, I don’t think the citizens should wait while we negotiate. I would like for us, in good faith of course, I would like us to render this service when AMR does not have an ambulance available. I would like one of my ambulances to respond while we conduct negotiations,” he said.

Deputy legal director Daniel Dascenzo said unionized workers can be ordered to perform the service, but will have the right to file a grievance with the union if they wish. However, he says that running these services is already listed in their duties.

“In their job descriptions providing emergency medical services is there,” he said.

Finley says the fire department currently has 17 paramedics and 27 paramedics.

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