Officials eyeball ambulance study to reduce firefighting costs

By Stefano DiPietrantonio – bio |email|Facebook

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Proposed $11 million cuts within the Cincinnati Fire Department could mean up to 90 firefighters getting laid-off by Christmas.

There is a new plan that could change the way the department does business.

Council Member Laure Quinlivan said Tuesday that the City of Cincinnati sends a fire truck or ambulance to every emergency call and that costs the City a bundle.

Councilman Jeff Berding has been in on many of the preliminary, mostly informational, budget talks and says they have not gotten into any specifics about the fire, or police and sanitation workers.

But he did convene an ambulance task force to look at how they're doing business right now. According to Berding, 80-percent of the time a fire truck leaves the bay, it is for medical reasons. Only 20-percent of the calls are actual fire runs.

So, they're exploring adding a public health nurse to the 911 dispatch center, which could reduce costs, maintain public safety, and get rid of what is the most expensive taxi service in the city.

"So, when someone calls in seeking medical attention," Berding said. "And in some cases a public health nurse could give the individual some instructions for self-treatment, in addition, the public health nurse could give them an appointment to go to a city health clinic and if the person needed transportation, you could have an alternative transport, taxi vouchers for instance, so the person can get there at one-tenth the cost."

Berding said it's the difference between a 35-dollar trip to a clinic, as opposed to a 35-hundred dollar trip, which is what is costs the City right now.

Also, he said, a new fire chief comes on board soon, who will be a real leader in reducing costs.

Berding said they are just now starting the deep dive into department budgets. There are no real numbers yet.

And starting next Wednesday, at 10:30 in the morning, you too can weigh-in with your input to these public meetings.

They'll go on every Wednesday morning until the city can arrive at a balanced budget.

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