HOBART | Fire officials starting Monday are removing the ambulance from Fire Station No. 1, 400 E. 10th St., Fire Chief Brian Taylor said.
The temporary plan, which is being done on a 60-day trial basis, will include adding an advanced life support engine at Fire House No. 1, Taylor said.
"An ALS engine is fully equipped to provide the full complement of services to any citizen in need," Taylor said.
The Fire Department will continue to operate two fulltime ALS ambulances out of Fire Station No. 3 and No. 4.
"The Fire Department, like all other departments in the city, is currently undergoing evaluation and review for its most efficient and effective method of operation. All aspects will be scrutinized to ensure the citizens of Hobart are receiving the utmost in service at all times," Taylor said.
The temporary plan relayed to firefighters on Friday will reduce the number of emergency medical services staffed ambulances from three to two, Professional Firefighters Local 1641 union President Tom Castle said.
It's a move Castle opposes.
"My concern as union president is the response time since it will increase. They are cutting the number of ambulances and hurting the citizens who live in that district as well as those throughout the city. The EMS has been cut in half," Castle said.
A few years ago, the city operated four ambulances — then that number was reduced to three, now two.
Castle said he is pleased trained paramedics will still remain at Fire Station No. 1 and can respond to calls and can start care until the ambulance arrives.
"They'll have paramedic equipment so they can start care but they won't be able to transport," Castle said.
City Councilman P. Lino Maggi, D-3rd, whose district includes Fire Station No. 1, said he trusts the chief is making the right decision.
"I'm not against it at this point. If it doesn't work, he'll go back to the way it was. ... We're trying to find a new way of providing services," Maggio said.
Maggio said he opposes eliminating the city-operated EMS.
"I'm against privatization," Maggio said.
The status of Hobart's emergency medical services has continued to be a hot issue of discussion since Jan. 9 when several city officials met with Superior Ambulance to hear a proposal.
Mayor Brian Snedecor and several council members at a City Council meeting last week emphasized that they are only investigating the possibility of privatizing ambulance services.
Snedecor said he plans to hire a consultant to look at ways to cut Fire Department costs.
Castle also opposes privatizing the city's ambulance services because it could potentially mean the loss of 12 to 14 firefighters.
The Hobart Fire Department currently has on its roster 50 firefighters who are cross-trained as either paramedics or emergency medical technicians.
The total number of firefighters, EMT and paramedics on duty each day will remain unchanged, Taylor said.