Fire Chief’s Plan

The Fire Chief’s plan is to replace all civilian medics with firefighters and staff “firefighter medics” on both fire engines and ambulances.[i] In order to begin this transition, the Fire Chief has removed all civilian medics from Station 207 (located near the intersection of Duke Street and Quaker Lane), choosing instead to staff the ambulance (Medic 207) with only one “firefighter medic” assisted by a BLS firefighter. A second “firefighter medic” has been staffed on the fire engine (Engine 207), under the assumption that this “firefighter medic” will serve as the second medic on the scene of EMS calls to which Medic 207 responds.

The Fire Chief has removed all civilian medics from Station 207 (located near the intersection of Duke Street and Quaker Lane), choosing instead to staff the ambulance (Medic 207) with only one “firefighter medic” assisted by a BLS firefighter.

The Fire Chief plans to replace civilian medics at other stations in the same manner—by removing all civilian medics from the station, staffing the station’s ambulance with only one “firefighter medic,” and staffing a second “firefighter medic” on the station’s fire engine.[ii] The next station to be transitioned will be Station 205 (located on Cameron Street near the King Street Metro), which houses Medic 205 (currently staffed with two medics) and Engine 205.

The Fire Chief plans to replace civilian medics at other stations in the same manner—by removing all civilian medics from the station, staffing the station’s ambulance with only one “firefighter medic,” and staffing a second “firefighter medic” on the station’s fire engine.

The Fire Chief has stopped hiring new medics and eliminated all career advancement opportunities for existing medics. Rather than promote medics into currently vacant EMS supervisor positions, the Fire Chief intends to replace EMS supervisors with firefighter “EMS captains.” It is unclear what the Fire Chief will do with existing EMS supervisors, including the current EMS Operations Manager. One possibility that has been discussed is to transition EMS supervisors to day work positions focused on training and quality assurance—presumably to cope with the quality of care issues that will arise as a result of the Fire Chief’s plan.

The Fire Chief believes that his plan will “significantly enhance [the City’s] service delivery model in regards to rapid ALS intervention by increasing the number of ALS response capable units.”[ii] This ignores the fact that the existing EMS delivery model already staffs two EMS supervisors each day on quick response vehicles (one located at each end of the City)—to ensure that rapid ALS arrives on the scene even if an ambulance is delayed.[iii]

The existing EMS delivery model already staffs two EMS supervisors each day on quick response vehicles (one located at each end of the City)—to ensure that rapid ALS arrives on the scene even if an ambulance is delayed.

The Fire Chief’s plan will not improve EMS delivery in the City. Instead, it will cost the City more (by creating operational inefficiencies and necessitating the equipping and training of firefighter medics), buy the City less (by diluting the high level of ALS care already provided under the existing ALS delivery model), and impermissibly burden an employee group (civilian medics) that has faithfully—and very effectively—provided EMS care and transport to City residents for decades.

[i] Alexandria Fire Department. (Oct. 28, 2014). Alexandria fire department policy issues. [PowerPoint].

[ii] Alexandria Fire Department. (Mar. 3, 2015). Information Bulletin 15-017: Firefighter-Medic Program FAQ.

[iii] Indeed, the Fire Chief’s presentation to City Council stated that his plan would increase the number of ALS units from 6 units, which only counts the number of ambulances in the City—a number that will NOT increase under the Fire Chief’s plan.

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