Fulton firefighters will no longer respond to non-emergency medical calls.
Mayor Ron Woodward sent a letter to Oswego County’s E-911 Administrator in February to ask that the city fire department be removed from the list of agencies that will respond to what are called Alpha Level EMS Calls.
“This department will still respond upon request to citizen assists with no medical complaint or to a request for assistance by Menter Ambulance personnel on scene,” the letter said.
According to statistics provided to the city by E-911 Administrator Mike Allen, city firefighters responded to more than 2,700 calls in 2011. Nearly two-thirds of those calls were for medical issues.
Woodward estimates that a quarter of those medical calls were Alpha-level non-emergency medical calls.
He said that fire department emergency medical technicians have to wait at any call until EMTs from Menter Ambulance show up. If there’s another call at the same time, Woodward said that could require off-duty staff to be called in on overtime.
Woodward believes many of the non-emergency calls are unnecessary. “We live in the ‘you owe me’ generation. The people who don’t have to pay for services are the ones that use them as much as they can,” he said. “Some of these ambulance calls are a free ride to Syracuse, then they deny (getting) medical service and go shopping.”
He doesn’t believe the change will put people at risk, because Menter Ambulance is located in Fulton and can respond about as quickly as the fire department can.
Woodward doesn’t yet know how much money the change will save, but he knows it makes sense. “what’s it cost to take a hundred foot tower ladder into a neighborhood for someone who doesn’t have an emergency? How smart is that,” he asked. “Why would we drag a million dollar piece of equipment to something that wasn’t an emergency?”