The Department is changing the service delivery model from a single-role system to an integrated all-hazards emergency services system. In this model, fire and EMS service delivery will be performed by personnel that have training in firefighting and Basic Life Support (BLS). Advanced Life Support (ALS) service delivery will be performed by firefighters that have the additional ALS training (Paramedic). This is the same response model used by our Mutual aid partners in Fairfax County and Arlington and follows nationally accepted best practices for fire-based EMS delivery.
What does this mean?
While our firefighters are trained in fire suppression skills and maintain Basic Life Support (BLS) certifications, our medics do not currently hold any fire suppression qualifications. We are currently moving to a system where our medics will receive firefighter training in addition to their Advanced Life Support (ALS) certifications. In addition, many of our firefighters will expand upon their BLS certifications to an ALS level. This change will allow for more flexibility in staffing and, most importantly create a more cost effective service delivery system because most of our personnel will be cross trained to perform various roles within the department.
Why are we making this change?
It significantly enhances our service delivery model with regards to rapid ALS intervention by increasing the number of ALS response capable units from 6 to 16.
It will increase the operational capacity to mitigate all incidents with greater safety and efficiency by supporting the 4-person staffing model on all engines and ladder trucks, and will provide dedicated staffing for a heavy rescue squad (for special operations such as technical rescue, vehicle extrication, and hazardous materials support). *Note: No new positions will be added to the Department under this plan.
The change will allow for increased efficiency, accountability, and management of the administrative and operational sections of the organization.
It aligns us with the same Fire, EMS, and Special Operations response model utilized by our automatic aid partners and neighboring jurisdictions.
When fully implemented all personnel will be working on the same shift schedule allowing for more fluid management of personnel and greater teamwork.
Are there any benefits to the employees?
It provides promotional opportunities that do not currently exist
It provides coverage under the heart-lung presumption law for current ALS providers.
Enhanced retirement system for single-role medics that choose to get the firefighter training.
More opportunities for professional development.
Single-role firefighters and medics that participate and successfully complete the training will have the opportunity to earn additional income by moving to a higher grade on the career ladder.
How will we implement the program?
The plan is to implement the program over four phases. The plan will be assessed at regular intervals and adjustments will be made as needed.
Phase 1 is nearly complete with the training of some personal and the implementation of the first ALS engine.
How will the current single-role medics that cannot or choose not to participate be phased out?
The Department will not force the single-role medics to take the firefighter training. However, the training will be strongly encouraged in order to meet the goal of changing the service delivery model in a timely manner.
Single-role medics who choose not to cross-train will continue to be utilized in the system to provide ALS care. As these individuals retire or separate from the system, they will be replaced by cross-trained, dual role employees.
What are the challenges with this change?
Remaining competitive in recruitment and retention with surrounding jurisdictions will be a key challenge. This will require ongoing discussions between the City leadership, Fire Department staff and the labor organizations.
We are not changing any treatment protocols we currently practice and to ensure we maintain our high quality of EMS service delivery during this transition, we are maintaining one position in the organization that will have the responsibility of EMS quality assurance. This position is currently in place and is another recognized “best practice” in high performing fire-based EMS.
To read more on recognized best practices for fire-based EMS systems, read the attached study done by a group of nationally recognized organizations: Click Here