Launch of Firefighter-Based Ambulance Service Merits Further Discussion by City Council

Following an informative presentation by Fire Chief Scott Dalrymple about the future launch of a firefighter-based ambulance, the City Council voted unanimously to support Council President Michael Marchese’s motion to seek an update from the Administration about the costs of the service.

Dalrymple said the new ambulance was delivered to the city in the late spring and is being housed at the fire station on Hancock Street.

Ward 1 Councilor Wayne Matewsky offered his support of an ambulance staffed by Everett firefighters. Matewsky said he  knows firsthand the importance of getting a quick response from emergency medical personnel after suffering a medical issue himself while visiting Florida.

“I know personally that when someone calls 911 and they’re having a health issue, that minutes count,” said Matewsky. “You have my support [Chief Dalrymple], and the sooner this ambulance is online and servicing this community, I’ll feel a lot better.”

Ward 2 Councilor Stephanie Martins asked the fire chief the question that was likely on the minds of all residents viewing the meeting. Martins wanted to know what the delay was in getting the new ambulance in service in the city.

“I know we don’t want to discuss negotiations, but just so the people at home understand what the real holdup is,” said Martins in posing her question.

Dalrymple responded that though he couldn’t discuss actual negotiations, “we do currently have 55 firefighters out of 100 that are EMTs.” Another nine firefighters have begun EMT classes.

“So, we’re waiting for everyone to be certified before the ambulance can run?” Martins further inquired.

“No, the slight delay was the negotiations, which are being completed,” replied Dalrymple. “That’s why I would think in the next three to four months, once this agreement is settled, we’ll continue on with the proper training we need – and by then 65 percent of the department will be EMTs.”

Ward 6 Councilor Al Lattanzi asked the fire chief if there were plans to add other firefighter-based ambulances.

“I’d like to see multiple ambulances in the city,” said Dalrymple. “With all your support and the Administration’s support, I’m sure it will happen one day.”

“I support this 100 percent,” said Lattanzi. “I think we need more than one [ambulance], though.”

Dalrymple said a new ambulance costs $350,00 and it takes 18-24 months for the city to receive the ambulance.

Marchese asked about the payment rate for EMT-certified firefighters. Dalrymple said that all firefighters who have Massachusetts EMT certification get a two percent stipend in their pay.

Dalrymple expects that the new Fire Department-operated ambulance would handle 1,800 calls per year.

The Council will continue discussion on the matter at its next meeting following an update on the costs to the city for firefighter-based ambulance service.

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