Ambulances will be the only vehicles leaving stations for a number of calls under a new administrative order.
Under the order, issued today by Chief Ron Samul in compliance with a request by Mayor Daryl Finizio, the number of calls requiring a fire engine to accompany an ambulance will be reduced by 45 percent. Ambulances will respond individually to all emergency medical calls with the exception of cardiac issues, burn victims, drug overdoses, and electrocutions. The order goes into effect at 7:30 a.m. on Friday
Battalion chiefs will monitor the calls to determine additional response, and ambulance crews may request that first responders in engine crews be dispatched to the scene. Battalion chiefs will also prioritize EMS calls when possible to avoid the use of mutual aid services, although first responders will be dispatched when a mutual aid service is requested.
"Today’s order represents the beginning of an ongoing procedural review to ensure that the fire department is maximizing efficiency and cost effectiveness," Samul said in a statement. "This is an ongoing effort begun by the administration to address the department’s, and the city’s, fiscal needs."
In an Aug. 24 memo, Finizio asked Samul and Deputy Chief Henry Kydd to assess how the department's vehicles are used in responding to call and make recommendations to improve efficiency. Finizio said the order is the first change to the department's standard operating procedure. He previously announced that the fire and police departments would be considering such revisions to standard operating procedures in order to ensure that they to not go over their allotted budgets.
"This change saves city resources, enhances departmental efficiency, while continuing to provide quality service and ensure public safety,” Finizio said. "The wear and tear on our fire engines, and the fuel costs incurred, could not be justified by any public safety requirements when other methods of providing service are available. I commend the chief, and deputy chief, for formulating a more efficient way of meeting our public safety needs."
New London Firefighters Local 1522 said in an Aug. 26 post on its Facebook page that a vehicle struck an ambulance working at a car accident that morning without injuries, but that a driver was killed several years ago after colliding with the back of an ambulance. The union said engines are assigned to some medical calls in order to block traffic at emergency scenes to avoid such incidents and protect responders and the public.
"This is especially important when operating on the Gold Star Bridge, I-95, and Route 32 where traffic continues to proceed at normal speeds while responders are working within feet of these vehicles," the post concludes.