Dying on the Vine

Rescue 7 has been promised for a decade, dangled like a carrot on a stick in front of the weary eyes of an over worked rescue division. Five thousand plus runs a year is too many calls to maintain an effective, motivated crew. Running around like a bunch of fools is no way to operate an EMS division. Another unit would have greatly improved the working conditions in the EMS division of the Providence Fire Department, increased morale, improved patient care, lengthened the careers of the more experienced people in the division, saved on wear and tear of the fleet, and most importantly, would have ensured my promotion to Captain!!!

Looks like I'll be dying on the vine, as they say about people like me who linger on a promotional list but never make it. Wish I had all the hours I spent studying for a promotion that will never come back, I would have put those hours to good use, things like sleeping, enjoying the holidays, reading for enjoyment and spending quality time with the family.

Rescue 7, contractually agreed upon last year to be commissioned in January of 2012, after years and years of broken promises is dead. The mayor demanded six million dollars in give backs from the firefighters union. The firefighters union, consisting mostly of engine and ladder company firefighters chose to use Rescue 7 to get closer to the demanded concessions. It is now delayed until 2014. I'll believe it when I see it.

Rather than embrace the EMS division, and make it a model of what could be done, and lead the region by example in making The Providence Fire Department the best first responders anywhere, we will continue to treat EMS as a secondary concern, and continue to have six units do 75% of the call volume all the while telling anybody who will listen how busy we are, and how many runs we do, and use those numbers when we need them, and forget about the few who are actually assigned to the rescues who are doing the lion's share of the work.

But, like the firefighters tell us when anybody from the rescue division dare mention the late relief, the missed meals and the burnout, "if you can't take it, get off the truck."




  • Mikey says:

    The Dept. does around 60,000 runs a year, each rescue does around 5000, meaning rescues do about 30,000 runs a year, or 50%, not 75. Of that 50% engines go on a large majority of them, so your numbers are a little off. If you don't like it, get off the truck.

  • Michael Morse says:

    The dept. does about 40,00 runs a year, of that about 30,000 are rescue runs, there are twenty-four engines, ladders and a special hazards and six rescues. If you don't like that, get off my blog.

  • B says:

    WIth "brothers" like these, who needs enemies?

  • Michael Morse says:

    Ha! I've been dealing with this for ten years, some rescue people well over twenty! It's all good, I tell them the same thing when they get ordered to work on holidays.

  • BM says:

    Left off this post is the fact that a large number of rescue personnel are in that division because they are afraid of fire (not you Mike),  but many, or because they like the overtime they get because there are only 6 trucks in the division of which all 12 spots need to be filled every shift. I don't see rescue guys complaining when they cash their checks. That being said there should be more rescues. But you know what is worse than delaying the implementation of rescue 7?? Laying off 58 guys. It's a no brainer, delay rescue 7.

  • totwtytr says:

    If 3/4 of the run volume is EMS, then shouldn't 3/4 of the vehicles and staff be dedicated to that?
    Sadly, it's typical of fire service EMS that EMS gets short shrift when it comes to equipment, staff, and funding. The term "Red headed step child" comes to mind.

  • Rob says:

    I have always wondered why doesn’t any RI town call in Private EMS for back-up when the Providence Rescues are tied up? Is their a law against privates responding to 911 calls?

    Worcester EMS and Boston EMS have a system backed up by privates and they still exist, but they are “EMS Only services”.

  • michael says:

    To preserve jobs fire departments need to focus on how to make our services vital to the taxpayers. EMS is the perfect way to do that. As for people assigned to rescues being afriad of fire, that is ridiculous, some people are in it for the money, that is true, but a lot of the people in the division do it because they are good at it and believe it or not prefer the rescues to the engines or ladders.

  • totwtytr says:

    Boston and Worcester do it because they are EMS agencies, just not private ones. FDs generally, at least from what I've seen, won't call on private EMS agencies because they don't want their generally clueless (about EMS) citizens to get the idea that someone other than a fire department can provide service.

  • Mike says:

    My understanding is that RI law forbids private ambulance companies to respond to 911 calls. Apparently back in the day, (according to legend) AMR was trying to muscle in and get a foothold in 911 service in RI. The FDs went to the state for protection, and they in turn got that law passed.
    Worcester's a private company, run by UMass Memorial Healthcare, so they can and will call privates regularly (heck, there isn't a day or minute during peak times that there isn't a private going to a medical call in Worcester. But that's an issue all to itself.) When the private ambos are exhausted, they go to the surrounding FD's that do EMS, such as Holden, West Boylston, & Auburn.
    -Mike (A Worcester Resident and EMT hopeful)

    • BH says:

      Mike- people keep talking about this "law," but nobody can seem to show me where it is.  Certainly didn't stop AMR from covering Pawtucket's calls during the Greenhalgh Mill fire in 2003, and doesn't seem to be preventing Pawtucket from going to bid now.  Doesn't sound like much of a law even if it does exist. 
      And let's be clear- "the state" wouldn't have done crap to "protect" the FDs from competition.  If anything, the union would have had to go to the General Assemby (itself teeming with union members, hmm no conflict there) to pass a law to "protect" them, much like the teacher's union is doing right now. 

      • Mike says:

        I will readily admit I am not familar with RI law. All I know is what I've gleaned from the grapevine. That's all I have to add to this. Just grapevine info. I only added my voice to the crowd primarily because there was a correction that needed to be made about WEMS.

  • Michael Morse says:

    EMS and the entire healthcare "industry" is a watered down disaster. 90% of what we do doesn't make a bit of difference. That is the truth. At least tonight, after fifteen calls for rides to the hospital and one emergency. Tomorrow I'll be back on track.
    One day at a time, best I've got at the moment.

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