NY Daily News Today-9/23/21

mack

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Very interesting thread with a lot of conflicting comments, opinions, facts. That's good. All opinions welcomed but let's keep them respectful to all services and respective members. FDNY members, fire and EMS, are professionals, well-trained, and perform difficult, dangerous and thankless duties. They also typically work well, day in, day out, with other FDNY counterparts and NYPD and other city agency personnel.

Also, the combination of NYC fire and EMS took place a relatively long time ago. This took place in NYC as well as most cities, counties and departments across the country. Although initially resisted by many, and even though difficulties were encountered, it has proven to be a more efficient and more effective way of using available assets and saving lives. A retired chief I knew well would often say "We save more lives now with CPR and emergency medical care than we used to save with aerial ladders. It is almost standard in the fire service to have a combined Fire-EMS department. In the department I was in, the combined fire and medical responsibilities were accepted, complimentary and usually resulted in much better and effect use of department personnel.

A few other comments:

- It is very difficult to obtain accurate or specific data to compare, analyze or criticize "the way it was" and "the way it is" regarding fire and EMS integration. Most of the integration "history" is from memories of individuals' perspectives who probably were unable to see the "big picture".
- Technology, better communications, medical costs, drug ODs, use of EMS to replace PCPs, homelessness, etc - there have been many factors which have caused EMS calls to increase dramatically from the levels in the 1960s and 1970s before department integration. Resources are costly and limited.
- Combining EMS and fire services also reduced overall management overhead, enabled more standardized training, improved assessment and treatment response time, improved cooperation at fires, MVAs, major emergencies and incidents.
- Combined Fire-EMS departments usually result in better career opportunities, diverse assignments, more training dollars.
- Combining Fire and EMS functions places fire unit members consistently in direct contact with the public in critical settings and results in positive support and recognition for the department.
- Combining departments with different functions or responsibilities is not simple. When NYC combined Housing Police and Transit Police into NYPD, resistance existed and problems were encountered. Same in most other cities, counties and towns.
- Combined Fire and EMS incident command at incidents is much easier and more effective with a combined service.
 

mack

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Critics who use reduced fire incidents as the sole criteria for maintaining current fire company levels ignore the important reason for having an effective fire suppression level in the first place - to save lives and property from fire. Even if fire units did not respond to any medical emergencies, there is still a critical need to have sufficient firehouses in neighborhoods regardless of the frequency of fires. Before fires spiked in the 1960s and 1970s, NYC had even more fire companies than present levels. You can't tell a neighborhood it's firehouse is no longer necessary because working fires have decreased 20%, or 40%, or any percentage. Medical calls do utilize fire suppression assets, but they are not the only justification for fire companies.
 
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