With a drop in the rate of fires and more calls for medical runs, officials say the Philadelphia Fire Department is facing a shortage of paramedics.
But a push to train more paramedics is leading to some controversy among firefighters who also had been serving as emergency medical technicians or EMTs.
Firefighter Mike Breslin says he was told his medical training was cut because the city is concentrating on training new paramedics.
“I was an EMT, but you don’t work the ambulance, so you aren’t being an EMT anymore,” he said. “So you are having less EMTs on the back step of the fire truck which are instrumental when you need CPR, the more hands the better. “
Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers says that’s not the case, and that the city is working hard to train first responders and better prepare the system to handle the medical emergencies.
“One, the priority dispatch system that we are putting into place,” he said. “Two, the realigning of the firefighters and paramedics so that we can go forward in a concerted way so that we can continue to be better as far as servicing the community.”
Ayers said there is currently a paramedic class now in training. Another will follow when this one graduates, he said.