Who cleaned it up? Cleveland Fire Department and their cross-trained firefighters, medics, and HazMat Techs/specialists.
I have to acknowledge that Mr Allard has done his homework and has written a well-balanced, if slightly under-informed article. In the interest of edification and clarity, I would like to offer a few points for consideration.
First-A trend across the country is to have members of the fire service cross-trained as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and paramedics (EMT-Ps). I believe that every single firefighter is trained at least to the level of EMT. More than 100 Cleveland Firefighters are also paramedics. We also have about 6-8 Emergency Room nurses working as firefighters. That is, we can do everything you put in front of us. Pull your family out of a house fire, treat their injuries, and (until February 11, 2013) take them to Metro Hospital for medical care.
Second- Your math is fuzzy-like PeeDee fuzzy. EMS considers any time a single ambulance goes on a call a run. The Fire Department routinely sends 5-7 trucks to every potential fire alarm and it is counted as 1 run. Therefore; 90,000 runs for EMS is NOT greater than 65,000 runs for CFD, especially considering that Fire responds with EMS on most runs.
Third- The dirty little secret that no one wants to acknowledge is that if 70% of the runs in Cleveland are medical in nature, more than 3/4 of those are non-emergency calls (eg, someone just needs a ride to the hospital). Most of those calls could be handled with a cab voucher and do not require trained medical personnel. Unfortunately, this is an observation of a symptom of the US medical system in general.
Finally, the problem with providing medical care in Cleveland is not the lack of trained personnel who can be on scene within 4 minutes (as CFD can; see note about cross training above) it is the lack of transport units (ambulances or rescue squads) that can take people to the hospital. In the City/EMS/Fire administrations' infinite lack of foresight, they closed 4 CFD advanced life support (ALS) units staffed by experienced paramedics so that they can add 3 new EMS units. These 4 Rescue Squads were some of the busiest fire companies in the City. Rescue Squad 3, which had been located at 7300 Superior Avenue, routinely ran 16+ runs per day. We could respond to your car accident, cut you out, perform ALS care, take you to the hospital, and be back in service ready for the next call in less time than it takes EMS to document someone with an asthma attack. This is not a negative comment about the fine people working on the streets as EMS medics, but more about the efficiency with which cross-trained firefighters can provide excellent care and service to the citizens of Cleveland.
John O'Flaherty, LT, EMT-P, PhD
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