Rochester firefighters union decries delay getting ambulance for injured firefighter

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monday night, a fire tore through the upper floors of a building on Greig Street; two people were in the home at the time and were taken to area hospitals.

A firefighter was also taken for treatment and is on the mend.

The Firefighters Association said they had to wait over seven minutes to get an ambulance for a firefighter suffering from a rapid pulse and heat exhaustion, the delay they say is unacceptable. The City of Rochester said Tuesday, the firefighter was treated on-scene and the transport wasn’t an issue, ambulances were there.

“They realized that he needed to go to the hospital and we didn’t have an ambulance,” says Eddie Santiago, President of the Rochester Firefighter’s Association. He says this is not about the EMTs, he says they do a phenomenal job. 

“It’s just a situation where ambulance crews are not paid well,” he says.

Santiago also says the ambulance crews are overworked and overused, “And corporate doesn’t want to do anything about it.”

The City said today they are:

“…looking into this matter with AMR. However, it is important to note that the injured firefighter was treated on-scene and an ambulance was available to transport him at any time as needed. In addition, the Rochester Fire Department will conduct a study of ambulance service in the City as proposed by Mayor Warren in her 2021-22 budget to ensure anyone who needs help receives it quickly and efficiently. This study will include our firefighters and our community as it moves forward.”

-City of Rochester

Santiago said the ambulance on-scene was treating someone else. “The minute they started working on that other person, another one should have been dispatched,” he says.

Santiago says a solution here could be a fire-based EMS service, and help take the stress off the system. “About 90% of our firefighters are EMTs. But there’s only so much equipment that we have that we can do. We can’t transport,” he says.

On Saturday, the Rochester Ambulance Union responded with a letter, stating:

“The dispatchers, paramedics and EMTs that comprise our membership respect and appreciate Rochester’s firefighters and police officers as independent experts in their own fields who work tirelessly beside us each and every day.”

Despite the timing concerns brought on by the pandemic, the union calls for change to be made in the emergency response system.

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