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AFD Medics Disapprove of AFD’s Dual Role Cross Training Plan | Fireman Mike | Old Town Post

If you need heart surgery would you rather have a heart surgeon or a general practitioner?  If you need emergency medical service (EMS) in Alexandria would you rather have a medic whose sole specialization is EMS or would you rather have a medic who is cross trained as a medic along with other firefighter/rescue disciplines?

The Alexandria Fire Department (AFD) is implementing a plan requiring medics to be firefighters.  The gist of the plan is that medics will be cross trained as firefighters so that they can do both jobs. The plan to create this change has already been put into place by AFD administration.  You can view the details of the cross training plan by clicking on the following link:  Firefighter-Medic Program and Dual Role Medic Providers FAQ.  Many firefighters do not want to be medics just as many medics do not want to be firefighters.  AFD’s plan will no longer support personnel who choose to be solely a medic.  AFD states the most important factor for creating the dual role plan is that it will create a more cost effective service delivery system.

Since 1976 Alexandria has been an award winning leader in EMS.  They have saved literally thousands of lives.  What makes them so great?  Medic units (ambulances) were staffed with two certified Advanced Life Support (ALS) personnel.  These individuals are civilians and not sworn employees like firefighters and police.  All firefighters are trained to the Basic Life Support (BLS) certification.  ALS medics are able to do intubations and deliver intravenous medications along with many other advanced pre-hospital medical techniques.  BLS personnel are not authorized to do the more advanced medical techniques.  This two person ALS medic team was outstanding for Alexandria patient care as each person could assist the other in rendering aid to a patient.  This is extremely important for heart attack patients.  A BLS provider just cannot do the same things as they are not trained to that level.

AFD has started dismantling the two person ALS medic teams.  At Station 207 on Duke Street the medic unit operates with one ALS provider and a BLS assist/driver.  The other ALS provider is now placed on the fire engine as a dual role cross trained medic/firefighter.  The next medic unit scheduled to switch to a single ALS provider will be Medic 205, in the heart of Old Town, on Cameron Street.  Also, many Old Town residents do not realize that a medic unit was at Station 204 on Second Street but that the unit has been transferred to Station 210 on Eisenhower Avenue.  It appears that EMS in Old Town is diminishing quickly.

The Alexandria Professional Medics Association have started an online, local news and social media campaign in an effort to thwart the forced dual role medic program.  Their primary concern is that patient care will be adversely affected.  The group has started a web site which lists the reasons why they think the “cross training dual role model program” is a bad idea: Save EMS in the City of Alexandria.

Michael Kohrt, an Alexandria medic for eight years, was once enrolled in the medic to firefighter cross training program but he opted out after there were too many unanswered questions.  The unanswered questions he had were:

  • Which retirement system will I be under? The Medics VRS (Virginia Retirement System) or the Alexandria Firefighters and Police Offier’s Pension Plan?
  • Will I be covered by the heart and lung bill since I am a medic and not a sworn firefighter?
  • Will I be forced to work the firefighter 56 hour work week for the same pay I receive working a 42 hour work week as a medic?

According to Kohrt, he is absolutely not for the AFD dual role plan because first and foremost he feels that the quality of patient care provided will be diminished.  Kohrt also stated that “nearly 70% of all calls in Alexandria are medical related calls”.

The following chart depicts the emergency calls that were handled in Alexandria for years 2012-2014:

Incident Calendar Year

Total Incidents in City

Transports From Incidents in Alexandria




Transports From All Incidents

% Transports of All Incidents

Transports from EMS Incidents

% Trasports from EMS Incidents


  11,170   5,248







  10,903   4,964







  10,869   5,212







Many citizens of Alexandria are very concerned about this new medic plan.  A citizen, who wishes to remain anonymous in order to stay out of the media and protect his privacy, has utilized Alexandria’s emergency medical services on a few occasions and was very pleased with the competency of the medics and the thoroughness of their care.  However, he stated that “we would be very concerned if only one advanced life support medic showed up in a true emergency situation”.

In September, City Council will decide whether or not the AFD administration dual role cross training plan is the best course of action.  Meanwhile, the plan is being put into action.

The bottom line question is this:  Which EMS model is best for patient care for the residents and visitors of Alexandria?  Staffing is a critical issue for the fire department as is evidenced by the fact that there are still no firefighters at the newly built fire station 210 on Eisenhower Avenue.  Diminishing EMS care to support staffing issues is not the answer.  Hiring more medic and firefighter personnel sounds like a good plan.  The city is growing year by year.  Support services must also grow – especially when it comes to quality emergency medical care.


August 20, 2015 at 4:41 pm

I am lost for words for need to “commercialize” prehospital care by this driven desire to send 6 to 8 responders to medical calls when only 2 paramedics in 1 ambulance would suffice. Sending all these responders to every call creates more stress to the patients and thier families by robbing them of their privacy and dignity.

Larry huffman
September 3, 2015 at 9:32 am

Cross training of medics and firefighters is a terrible idea, you’re one or the other,you don’t get 100% effectiveness from either position by implementing a dual role for which neither wants to do.How does this sound,let’s train doctors to be maintenance personally, I mean hell, their there at the hospital

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