New Orleans Fire Union Pushes for EMS Runs

NEW ORLEANS --

The New Orleans Fire Fighters Association wants the city to change how it responds to medical emergencies, but Mayor Mitch Landrieu said he will make his decision when he lays out his budget next month.

With more than 400 members in 33 station houses across the city, the New Orleans Fire Department touts its ability to battle blazes, and now, it's saying firefighters also want to handle all of the city's emergency calls.

Nick Felton, head of NOFFA, said about 120 firefighters in New Orleans are certified EMTs.

"A lot of NOFD members have their emergency medical services certificates, and it's a natural blend -- fire-based EMS is what we call it in the field," Felton said.

Felton said larger cities like San Francisco and Atlanta do it, and now he's encouraging New Orleans to follow suit.

"We have had talks with the city and the administration, and they want to further investigate the possibility to see if it works. It's a great way to consolidate," Felton said.

But officials said that due to duplication, the move could leave some emergency medical technicians out of work. The city employs more than 100 EMTs and paramedics.

Dr. Julette Saussy, former New Orleans EMS director, said he was against such a move.

"I don't think that's what people want. They want to know they are getting proper care," Saussy said.

A city hall spokesperson said the Landrieu administration is not commenting about the consolidation or the 2012 budget, and it is currently taking citizen input.

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