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Cleveland to Merge Fire and EMS Agencies

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:


Read the entire article in the Plain Dealer HERE.
Cleveland Fire Department WEBSITE.
Cleveland EMS WEBSITE.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Gary

    If the command of the entire department once merged falls on the fire chief and he doesn not understand EMS, you will have major problems with a Chief trying to set protocol for EMS that they know nothing about.  Be careful with this, been there done that>

  • Medic not interested in fire.

    You will lose many good medics and EMS as not everyone is interested in working as firefighters.  Combining fire with EMS offers fire depts to expand, it does not necessarily offer the quality care that commited EMS agencies offer.Something is lost in constantly cross training and very often it is the medical aspect.   Very Sad. 

  • Rescue0

    It does not work well.

  • BH

    Disaster written all over it.

  • Too Old To Work

    Another craptastic EMS-fire system in the works. It won’t save money, won’t improve response times,and worst of all, it won’t save lives. It will save fire fighter jobs, though, so it’s a good thing!

  • rf

    I’m curious how you’re going to put out a fire with a Medic vehicle, and/or how you’re going to take a patient to the hospital in an Engine! This is a total lie to the public who doesn’t understand the issue!

    • Anonymous

      The reality is that they can still only take one vehicle.  The problem arises when they need both.  If they’re still employing the same number of bodies so that all apparatus are staffed, where is the need to have paramedics be firefighters?  And if they’re making the paramedics go fight fires, instead of waiting for medic calls, how is the ambulance going to respond?  So no change in cost, but a reduction in either training and experience or a reduction is staff.  Doesn’t exactly sound like a win-win to me.

  • Anonymous

    Considering that fire department calls tend to be 80%+ EMS, why is it that they’re always wanting to combine EMS into fire?  Modern trends are to integrate EMS into the health care system, not to take away the focus from patient care.  This is all about the fire department, and does not really address patient care.  Certainly they already had a tiered system.  I’m not sure how training a paramedic to be a firefighter will help when the vast majority of calls are EMS.  It does nothing but reduce the training and experience of the paramedic.  Epic fail.